Social prescribing for child and youth mental health and wellbeing: A systemic review of the evidence

Our partners at the Evidence Based Practice Unit (EBPU) are asking clinicians and services working with young people if they know of any social prescribing / community referral interventions within their local areas or nationally to inform part of a new systemic review. 

With increasing emphasis on interventions to not just focus on medication and therapy, this review will help raise the profile of what social prescribing interventions are available for child and youth mental health/wellbeing, as well as let professionals know about the effectiveness of these.  

Social prescribing: Why are we looking at it and why is it important?

In the last 15 years, there has been a shift from the concept of the biomedical health care model to the biopsychosocial model. This recognises that health is determined primarily by a range of social, economic and environmental factors, rather than just biological. Social prescribing seeks to address these wider factors by providing a wider range of support beyond medicine or therapy. Social prescribing has been used in settings outside of mental health (Chatterjee, 2017). More recently it has been applied to adult mental health where improvements in anxiety levels and in feelings about general health and quality of life were found (Kimberlee, 2013). However, no review has yet examined social prescribing interventions for child mental health and wellbeing.

What is meant by social prescribing?

Social prescribing is a way for local agencies to refer people to a range of non-clinical services. A definition states it as being "a mechanism for linking patients with non-medical sources of support within the community" (CentreForum Mental Health Commission, 2014). Sometimes referred to other names such as ‘community referral’, it can include, but not be limited to: Arts on Prescription; Books on Prescription; Education on Prescription; Signposting/Information Referral; Meditation on Prescription. 

What we are looking for and how can I help?

To help aid our review, we are asking clinicians and services working with young people if they know of any social prescribing/community referral interventions within their local areas or nationally. If you think you may know of a community activity or resource that you would prescribe to children or young people to improve their mental health and wellbeing, we would love to hear more about it. Please email the lead researcher, Dr Daniel Hayes ( outlining the project/support in a few lines. Alternatively, you can contact Daniel on 020 7443 2220.

What will happen to information we provide?

Any information about services that you provide will be assessed against our inclusion criteria for this review. We may also contact services that offer social prescribing initiatives to find out more about whether they have been evaluated. After this, we will synthesise findings from this review and produce a paper on its findings which will be available to CORC members. 


Kimberlee, R. (2013) Developing a social prescribing approach for Bristol. Project Report. Bristol Health & Wellbeing Board, UK. Available from:

CentreForum Mental Health Commission . (2014). The pursuit of happiness: A new ambition for our mental health . Retrieved from