We welcome the publication of the recommendations put forward by the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Task Force, in particular, the recognition that there is a need to prioritise preventative approaches to support children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing. We also welcome the proposal to engage with children and young people, in keeping with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Dr Pauline Craig, Head of Population Health at NHS Health Scotland, said:

“Scotland has an ambition to be the best place to grow up. However, recent evidence tells us that there is significant scope for improvement in the mental health and wellbeing of Scotland’s children and young people. These recommendations have the potential to transform the way young people receive support. By enabling access to the right help, at the right time and in the right place, it will help to make the right to health a reality for children and young people."

We know that poor mental health and wellbeing is not distributed evenly across the population. A preventative approach to this public health challenge requires action on the fundamental causes of poor mental health including poverty, discrimination, poor housing, social isolation and lack of employment prospects for young people and their families. This will need partners from a range of sectors, including the public and third sector, to work together. We are, therefore, pleased to see the focus on a whole systems approach to children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing.

We are encouraged that the recommendations advocate for the engagement of children and young people in decisions affecting policy and practice. Only by listening to young people’s lived experiences and engaging them in the decision making processes can we begin to achieve the goals of the recommendations.

NHS Health Scotland looks forward to working in collaboration with the Scottish Government and COSLA to realise the Task Force’s vision and ambitions.