Tweet about this on Twitter Email this to someone Share on LinkedIn

Young people
& mental health: Bolton

A case study from the Building Health Partnerships Programme

Following a number of young suicides in Bolton there was concern that existing services and systems were not as effective as they could be.


The Building Health Partnerships programme brought together a cross-sector group of those working with young people and an active group of young representatives. They joined forces to generate ideas for how to provide better access to children and young people’s mental health support services. It is a real example of how collaborative and partnership working can strengthen relationships, ideas, practice and in turn support cost savings.



Strategic objectives

  • Improve awareness of the local ‘offer’ for children and young people that would provide better access to services, and more resilience in the system
  • Strategically align commissioning and opportunities for joint/cross-sector approaches
  • Develop a ‘whole system’ approach to mental health through the engagement and involvement of key stakeholders through the process
  • Involve children and young people in the development of future health services



Local context

  • Year-on-year increase in children accessing CAMHS services 
  • 15k children in Bolton have a mental health need – low level anxiety and depression – which would not be suitable for a CAMHS referral 
  • High number of children and young people using A&E for mental health
  • Increasing usage by young people for inpatient care






Opened up honest conversation between providers, commissioners, voluntary and community organisations, service users and potential service users.


Brought about changes in Bolton’s approach to the prevention of young suicide creating a more comprehensive, joined up approach.


Supported the VCSE mental health services to form a joined up, coherent, less fragmented local offer that is clearer for commissioners and service users.


Broadened understanding, engagement and cross-sector delivery of mental health strategy around Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services and training on young people’s suicide prevention support through Papyrus.


Supported common understanding of commissioning language and processes.


Co-produced CAMHS Transformation Plan


Suicide prevention is now a key priority in the Bolton Locality Plan.


Paved the way for future collaboration in other fields.

Partners arrow""



Developed and delivered in partnership with:


Funded by NHS England


The Future


The Bolton partnership is committed to moving
collaboration and partnership forward in these ways:



  • Keep exploring and improving a range of pathways for young people, utilising a local asset-based approach
  • Continue consulting with young people on what support should look like from their perspective
  • Invite organisations to pledge commitment to the Bolton partnership approach to supporting children and young people
  • Work with voluntary and community organisations to identifying new ways of working
  • Develop a whole system, pathway development, working towards the CAMHS Thrive Model


Bolton is a place where all services work together in partnership to support and promote children and young people with their positive mental health and so prevent young suicide”.

Sherida Collins, Commissioning Manager, NHS Bolton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG)


Long-term benefits


  • Meaningful engagement between Clinical Commissioning Groups, residents, patients, carers and their communities
  • Trust and mutual understanding built between Voluntary Community & Social Enterprise organisations (VCSEs), Clinical Commissioning Groups, Health & Well-Being Boards and local authority
  • Enabled senior staff in cross-sector organisations to take key leadership roles in responding to the challenges of transforming health commissioning and delivery
  • Supported a local programme of intervention for more effective engagement of Voluntary Community & Social Enterprise organisations
  • Shared models and experience for effective approaches to cross-sector commissioning


142 people participated 

The reach of the programme extends far beyond the number of those that participated as they share learning with their colleagues.


  • 73 from voluntary organisations

  • 19 from the local authority

  • 8 from the clinical commissioning group

  • 5  from schools & colleges

  • 14 Young people

  • 4 from the private sector

  • 8 others from the community


Who got involved?

  • Bolton Clinical Commissioning Group
  • Bolton Council – Children & Adult Services and Public Health
  • Move Forward Bolton –  A partnership of adult mental health providers
  • BAND – a voluntary sector mental health organisation
  • Bolton Together – a consortium of voluntary organisations working to support children, young people and families
  • Bolton Council for Voluntary Services
  • IVAR Facilitator


Other area examples


Local area


Cross-sector relationships and collaboration

Swindon, Wakefield, Croydon, Hull, South Glos, Bolton




  • Supporting local pioneering initiatives and bids together and securing additional funding for projects/pilots initiated under BHP
  • Evidence of cross-sector involvement in local market development and local and regional procurement
  • Key projects developed as part of BHP [Community Navigators and Wellbeing Co-ordination] becoming part of the Public Service Transformation Network
  • Clinical Commissioning Groups leading cross-sector service redesign workshops
  • Work shadowing programme between VCSE and public sector, better engagement of VCSE in joint commissioning

Systems and structures developed, extended and enhanced



VCSE involvement
  • VCSE as part of the local Integration Executive strategy and initiatives to integrate health and social care
  • New social impact CRM tool for customers, commissioners and providers



Swindon, Dudley, Hackney, Croydon, South Glos

Local investment
  • CCG investment in local infrastructure in the form of Locality Link Workers around GP practices including a VCSE role in multi-disciplinary teams
  • CCG invested further money to extend the Social Prescribing pilot and commissioned evaluation from UEL
  • Making Every Contact Count pilot was extended by Croydon CCG
  • CCG investing substantial funds into the VCSE role in transformation plans for CAMHS
  • Securing substantial additional funding to support the wider roll-out of projects begun under BHP as part of a business case for future investment

SE Staffordshire & Seisdon Peninsular


New Commissioning Models

  • New commissioning model around meeting the needs of the elderly/isolated
  • Re-commissioning mental health services with VCSE engagement
  • Nottingham Health and Employment service being commissioned to reflect BHP work

Working practices advanced and/or new practical outcomes developed

South Glos, Bexley, Bolton



Service user/citizen involvement

  • Increase in service user involvement in design of integrated services
  • Young service users continued to be involved in CAMHS redesign
  • Engagement of BME community in services development around diabetes

Hackney, Dudley, Durham



Social Prescribing
  • Better VCSE support and services information available locally with advice about the care and support choices available to people
  • VCSE strategic engagement in delivering local health outcomes and addressing the local health budget deficit
  • A dataset of evidence to support the health outcomes of an under-represented group; supported Pride in Practice to expand city wide




Service redesign
  • Development of suicide education strategy across children and young people’s services
  • Tendering of co-designed social prescribing contract and a collectively agreed social value frame work
  • BHP influenced and supported redesign of CCG Mental Health Pathway

Change in working practice
  • Formal HWB partnership structure revised to re-create the 'thinking space' that the BHP programme gave. Making it less 'controlled' and more open.

Learn more about IVAR