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Mental Health and Wellbeing

It is estimated that 1 in 3 adult mental health conditions relate directly to adverse childhood experiences*.

We believe that support and interventions must be provided at the earliest opportunity to prevent children and young people developing severe and enduring mental health problems in later life.

Barnardo’s has been working to support and build resilience in children, young people and their families who have experienced trauma and adversity for over 150 years.

We know from our work with families that positive attachments between parents and children are the building blocks of good mental health and wellbeing, and we know from research how important it is to support parents to deal with their own early experiences so they can be strong supports and buffers for their children, helping them to build resilience and methods for coping with stress.

Our extensive work in schools, supporting the development of nurturing, trauma-informed approaches as well as promoting social and emotional learning has provided us with a strong evidence base to support a shift in culture when it comes to closing the poverty related attainment gap.

Our work to support young men and women in HM YOI Polmont around trauma, bereavement and loss highlights the need for much earlier intervention with vulnerable young people. These young men and women should not be waiting until they get to prison before someone helps them understand and deal with their traumatic experiences.

Our work

In March 2017 we successfully called for a National Review of Rejected Referrals to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). We are currently undertaking further work within our services to gather information about our experience of supporting children and young people who are not accepted for treatment with CAMHS, to provide further insight to the Audit of Rejected Referrals which the Scottish Government has commissioned as part of its 10 Year Mental Health Strategy.

We believe a multi-disciplinary approach to children and young people’s mental health is required, one which utilises the expertise from a range of professionals and agencies including health, education, social work and the third sector.

Many of the children and young people we work with will need support for their mental health around issues such as low confidence, low self-esteem, relationships, depression and anxiety. For many of these young people they just need someone who’ll listen to them without judging, someone who cares and someone who can help them understand. This may not be a health professional but we must make sure appropriate supports and services are available for all young people who need help, the right help at the right time.

During Children’s Mental Health Week 2018 we called for a clear strategy from the Scottish Government for rolling out the National Trauma and Skills Framework developed by NHS Education Scotland, with a focus on the children and young people’s workforce.

*Beyond Adversity: Addressing the mental health needs of young people who face complexity and adversity in their lives.

More information


Barnardo's Scotland response to Scottish Government consultation on the new Suicide Prevention Action Plan (PDF) April 2018


Barnardo's Scotland response to Scottish Government: National Improvement Framework consultation on measuring the attainment gap and milestones towards closing it (PDF) November 2017


Barnardo's Scotland and NSPCC briefing for PSE and bullying debate (PDF) November 2017


Barnardo's Scotland briefing for Health and Sport Committee Debate on the Inquiry into the Preventative Health Agenda (PDF) April 2017


Briefing for Members Debate on Barnardo's Scotland Nurture Week (PDF) February 2017


Barnardo's Scotland response to the Health and Sport Committee's Inquiry into the Preventative Agenda (PDF) February 2017


Barnardo’s Scotland response to ‘Mental Health in Scotland – a 10 year vision’ (PDF) September 2016


Barnardo's Scotland briefing for Members debate on Mental Health Education (PDF) September 2016


Barnardo's Scotland response to the Scottish Parliament’s Health and Sport Committee Inquiry into mental health (PDF) August 2016


Barnardo's Scotland briefing on the Scottish Parliament debate on 'The Best Start in Life for Scotland's Children' (PDF) June 2016


Responses and briefings prior to 2015 can be found here.

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