The Mental Health Improvement Portfolio worked with services across Scotland to improve access to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and Psychological Therapy (PT) services between 2016 and 2020.  This work supported services to undertake improvement in order to reach the Scottish Government target of 90% of people requiring CAMHS and PT services receiving treatment within 18 weeks of referral to the service.

The Mental Health Access Improvement Support Team (MHAIST) supported teams and services in two ways:

Responsive improvement support - We worked to gain critical insights into the systemic issues that affect access using a quality improvement approach. This included the use of Demand, Capacity, Activity and Queue (DCAQ) analysis and other tools to support services to produce and implement improvement plans. 

The Mental Health Access Collaborative – We worked with over 20 teams, focused on two workstreams:

- Improving access to CAMHS and Psychological Therapies

- Neurodevelopmental Pathways for CAMHS

The work culminated in a digital toolkit and motion graphic designed to support teams to improve access to CAMHS and Psychological Therapies using a quality improvement approach. A link to the toolkit and motion graphic can be found here:


An evaluation of the MHAIST Collaborative is available here.

Building on the learning from this work the Mental Health Improvement Support team will co-design a learning system to share learning, tools and resources to support services to improve access to mental health services.

NHS Fife Case study - NHS Fife have developed and launched an innovative website to facilitate direct access to psychological interventions. The website not only provides people with information and signposting to self-help materials, but enables users to sign up to a range of local groups to help with their mental health problems without needing to go to a GP for a referral. Read about their work in this case study.

NHS Tayside Case study - NHS Tayside CAMHS Service and Dundee City GP Cluster worked together to develop and test a Young Persons Liaison Service (YPLS) with the aim of referring or signposting children and young people to the most suitable staged approach intervention. Read about their work in this case study.

NHS Dumfries and Galloway Case study - The Neurodevelopmental Assessment (ND) Team and partners in NHS Dumfries and Galloway have redesigned their neurodevelopmental assessment process, showing reduced cost and reduced waiting times for children, young people and their families. Read about their work in this case study.

NHS Lanarkshire Case study - NHS Lanarkshire Clinical Health Psychology Service undertook a project aiming to reduce the DNA rate for new appointments, showing not only a reduction in DNA rates but also in waiting times. Read about their work in this case study.