Social media guidance for young people: grant specification

Outline specification for applications from organisations for up to £90,000 of funding to produce a world-leading digital resource. This fund has now closed.

This fund has now closed. The deadline for applications was 5pm on 10 May 2019.

1. Context and background

This work will contribute to the central vision of the mental health strategy 2017 to 2027: 'of a Scotland where people can get the right help at the right time, expect recovery, and fully enjoy their rights, free from discrimination and stigma'.

The UK Government published guidance for parents on screen time and social media use on 7 February 2019. The UK guidance was led by Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer in England, and includes input from the other UK Chief Medical Officers, including Catherine Calderwood.

On the same day, we announced our intention to produce Scottish-specific advice on screen time and social media. This announcement attracted significant media interest.

We want the final product to meet the following broad criteria:

  • it will be a world-leading resource, and a centrepiece of how young people across Scotland are assisted to use technology in a healthy way
  • it will be co-produced directly with young people, addressing issues that they themselves will identify
  • it will be focused on healthy social media use and screen time, although will also acknowledge the links and relationships with safe use
  • it will look at positive, healthy ways in which young people can use social media to maintain their own good mental wellbeing, as well as focusing on things and behaviours to avoid
  • it will be accessible, intuitive, and will be formatted and designed in a way that the target audience will want to engage with
  • it will be targeted mainly at young people, although could also include material relevant to parents, families and carers that expands on the UK’s parental guidance
  • it will be informed by a thorough consideration of existing research, referencing these where appropriate
  • it will cover topics that affect cross-Government interests, including Health, Education, Child Protection and Digital Participation, as well as many others

The final product is being jointly funded by Mental Health Directorate and Directorate for Children And Families. We envisage the final resource being launched and endorsed by both portfolio Ministers: the Minister for Mental Health, and the Minister for Children and Young People.

2. Requirements for interested organisations

There is considerable expertise across Scotland in terms of organisations who specialise in co-production work directly with young people. We are seeking applications from organisations who are interested in leading this work.

We are particularly interested in applications from a collaborative of organisations who meet the criteria listed below. Any bids from a collaborative of multiple organisations should identify a lead organisation who would co-ordinate the work, and be ultimately responsible for the final product.

We are looking for applications from organisations, or a collaborative of organisations, who:

  • have a national reach
  • have a core interest in young people’s mental health
  • have a proven history of innovative co-production directly with young people. Although not mandatory, we are particularly interested in bids from organisations who have experience of co-production work with young people that specifically involved improving mental health and wellbeing
  • will work with others to take full advantage of the expertise in co-production with children and young people that exists across Scotland
  • have the networks, expertise and ability to involve a representative range of young people in this work. We are particularly interested in ensuring that there is proportionate representation of protected characteristics. That includes age ranges, genders, ethnic minority groups, LGBTI+ perspectives, socio-economic backgrounds (including care experienced young people), geographical location, and additional support needs. Given we want the advice to explore the relationships between social media and physical activity (see Section 7), involving a representative range of young people who exercise to different degrees would also be helpful

Although not a formal requirement for a successful applicant, we would refer interested organisations to the recent co-production work on transition care plans (TCPs) to help young people move more smoothly between Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and adult services. This project used a highly effective model whereby a specialist working group of young people produced a draft product, and took that product to larger representative groups of young people for discussion and revision.

The TCPs are an innovative and well-received piece of policy work, and the model for how they were produced (a specialist group leading the work, who engage more widely with representative groups of young people where appropriate) may be something that organisations wish to consider for this project.

3. Budget

We have identified a budget for this work of up to £90,000, to be allocated and spent during financial year 2019 to 2020. We would be prepared to consider applications that slightly exceed this range if there was a clear and persuasive argument for doing so.

Interested organisations, and collaboratives of multiple organisations, should be aware that applications will be assessed on both the quality of the application, and the value for money that it delivers.

4. Criteria for assessment of applications

Applications will be scored against the Mental Health Directorate’s standard criteria for assessing funding applications, included at Annex B (below). These criteria include:

  • purpose and rationale
  • objectives and outcomes
  • risk assessment
  • monitoring, evaluation and reporting
  • cost
  • governance
  • exit strategy

All applications should make clear how these criteria will be addressed, using the application form at Annex A (below).

5. Timeline

Our first priority is ensuring that this product is a comprehensive, widely-used and world-leading resource, and that the successful applicant can take the time to ensure that young people’s input and views are fully considered and incorporated. We are therefore not setting a formal deadline at this stage, and would encourage applications to lay out what timescale they consider to be realistic.

One possibility that we have considered is that the final product could be the subject of a centrepiece launch on World Mental Health Day (10 October). We are open to discussion on this point.

6. Project monitoring and reporting

Section C of the application form (Annex A) invites applicants to outline how they will project manage and monitor this work, if successful.

One of the conditions of the grant award will be the participation in an advisory group to oversee the work. The advisory group would consist of one representative from the Scottish Government’s Health and Social Care Analysis Team, one representative from the Scottish Government’s Mental Health Directorate, and one representative from the successful lead organisation. The advisory group would meet three times: once on project setup, once at the midway point, and once before publication of the final product.

7. Scope of project

We have set up a cross-government policy group to ensure this work complements and adds value to other work happening across Scottish Government portfolios. Through discussions with the group, we have identified key topics that have consistently been raised by children and young people around their use of social media and screen time.

The group has outlined the following topics, and we would like the following to be considered for inclusion in the final advice:

  • healthy use of social media, and how to achieve this
  • the difference between types of social media and if these different types impact on mental health in different ways, e.g. Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, etc.
  • how social media can spread unrealistic and unhealthy expectations
  • self-management of good mental wellbeing
  • impact on sleep
  • body image and dissatisfaction with appearance
  • diet
  • physical activity, and the balance between the potential of social media and mobile devices to help to get people more active and to make physical activity a more social experience; and on the other hand, for screen time to lead to reduced levels of physical activity
  • bullying – in line with the national anti-bullying strategy ‘Respect for All’
  • the difference between types of screen time and use - for example watching television, completing homework online, playing video games or instant messaging, and if the use of these different types of screens has different types of impact on mental health
  • advice for parents and carers about their own screen use, and if this impacts on children and young people’s use of social media and screen time and their mental health

This list is not exhaustive. In addition to the topics mentioned above, we would warmly welcome the inclusion of any other topics that young people feel are important.

The following topics should not be included, as they tend to fall within the category of safe use rather than healthy use:

It may be that these topics, and the existing resources which cover them, could be referenced and acknowledged in the final advice.

8. Deadline and details of how to apply

The deadline for applications was 5pm on 10 May 2019.

Applications will be assessed against the Mental Health Directorate’s standard criteria for assessing grants, included at Annex B.


Annex A: application form

Annex B: assessment criteria



Children and Young People’s Mental Health Improvement Team
Scottish Government
Room 3ER
St Andrews House

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