Developing social prescribing to improve mental health and wellbeing for children and young people

Introduction to this Emerging Minds funded research project led by Dr Emily Stapley, University College London & Dr Daniel Hayes, Anna Freud Centre.


Social prescribing relieves pressure on NHS services by helping patients find community activities to improve their health/wellbeing. To date, it has mainly targeted adult populations where it has shown improvements in mental health.

However, a recent review focusing on young people identified a lack of studies and highlighted that to move the field forward research should identify:

  • What young people think are the best referral routes for social prescribing, and

  • Current barriers to social prescribing with young people.

This project, co-led by UCL and the Anna Freud Centre, in collaboration with the Social Prescribing Youth Network, University of East London and Streetgames, will explore these research topics.

Interviews and focus groups will be underpinned by the Behaviour Change Wheel, which will allow for the research team to make theoretically informed recommendations to improve services. It is hoped this will lead to increased accessibility of social prescribing for young people and positively impact on their mental health.