Service design for children and young people’s mental health

What is the Blueprint study?

Blueprint is an informal, short name for a study funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) that explored services for children and young people with common mental health problems like depression, anxiety and self-harm.

The study aimed to find out:

  • what services exist
  • how children/young people and families find out about and access these services
  • what the services actually do, and
  • whether they are helpful.




What did we do?

We looked at the international literature (reports and research papers) to identify different approaches to providing support. We wanted to find out whether certain approaches worked better than others and whether children/young people and families preferred some approaches over others.

We also carried out a survey and used the internet to identify 154 relevant services in England and Wales. To explore services in more detail, and hear directly from those using them, we planned to study nine of the 154 services – provided by both NHS and non-NHS providers – to interview children/young people, parents and staff.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 stopped us directly visiting the nine services, so we carried out phone and video interviews instead. We still managed to speak to, and hear the experiences of, more than 100 people (including children/young people and parents). Young co-researchers – young people with lived experience of mental health issues – helped us with our study data collection and analysis.

We combined information from the literature with information from the interviews to create a co-produced, evidence-based model of what services should look like.



Who funded and carried out the research?

The study was funded by National Institute for Health and care Research (NIHR). It was a collaboration between The University of Manchester, Cardiff University, Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust and Common Room, an organisation led by young people with lived experience of mental illness.

The project was also supported by an Advisory Group, which included young people with lived experience of common mental health problems, parents, professionals working in children’s mental health, education and social care, service managers and service commissioners and academics specialising in children’s mental health.

The study was funded by the NIHR’s Health and Social Care Delivery Research stream (ref: HS&DR 17/09/08). The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care.