Wellbeing while waiting (‘INSPYRE’)

Exploring how social prescribing can help young people waiting for NHS mental health support

Young people referred for NHS mental health support face long waiting lists, and up to three quarters will experience deterioration in their mental health while waiting. Social prescribing could therefore help young people in this situation, by connecting them to non-medical forms of community support such as skills development, peer support, befriending and social or cultural activities.

However, statistics indicate that many children and young people are not currently engaging in social prescribing; the logistics of getting young people referred into it are complex, and the evidence base for its effectiveness in this population is still in its infancy.

Therefore, this partnership project will develop and thoroughly evaluate a new social prescribing care pathway for young people aged 12-18 who are on Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) waiting lists.

Working with 10 NHS sites across England, our three-year goal is to have a fully developed and tested model that can be scaled nationally to help many more young people. To achieve this, the project has three phases:

  • Phase 1 (2022-23): co-designing the CAMHS social prescribing pathway, selecting sites for testing, and developing the protocols, resources and training needed to recruit young people into the service.
  • Phase 2 (2023-24): running a controlled trial to evaluate the impact of the pathway and activities on young people taking part and CAMHS services, also assessing its acceptability, suitability, feasibility, uptake, delivery, and cost.
  • Phase 3 (2024-25): assessing how the service can be expanded to cover more CAMHS sites, developing an implementation model, and sharing findings with policymakers, health practitioners and researchers.


Take a look at our recent publication: “Social Prescribing in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services: A Guide for CAMHS Practitioners” April 2024. This shares learnings from Phase I of the Wellbeing While Waiting study and has been produced to support CAMHS staff throughout the NHS in developing and scaling SP services in the future. 


Prudence Trust, British Academy & Wellcome Trust

Programme area

Clinical trials and implementation science



Principal Investigator

Dr Daisy Fancourt


Prof Jess Deighton, Professor of Child Mental Health and Wellbeing, Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families
Paul Jarvis-Beesley, Head of the Social Prescribing Youth Network

Research Team

Dr Daniel Hayes
Dr Alexandra Burton
Dr Feifei Bu
Alexandra Bradbury
Richard Turner
Joely Wright



Key Contact