Current projects


We are working with Public Health and other partners to develop and implement a communication tool ("All About Me" cards) to help young people raise their concerns with healthcare providers.
We are exploring the potential of using Equine Assisted Development in CAMHS. Three case studies are currently underway, and we have a randomised control trial planned for spring 2016.
We are providing support to teams in CAMHS for setting up the collection of clinical outcomes data.
We are in the process of developing a system for collecting patient feedback.
We are developing an evaluation to assess the implementation of an electronic patient record in CAMHS.
We are writing up a project on clinical outcomes, looking at potential differences between parents' and children's reporting of clinical symptoms before and after treatment.
The evaluation of our courses is ongoing. Participants complete an evaluation at the end of each course, and also a few months later to tell us about the impact the training has had on their work.



Completed work

We are a partner in an EU-funded study (CAMILLE) that has developed a pan-European training course for frontline workers to empower the children of mentally ill parents. We have had a paper on the project accepted by the International Journal of Mental Health Nursing.
We conducted a survey of all staff in mental health services in NHS Fife, as part of the work towards the Scottish Government's Psychological Therapies HEAT target.
We have worked with Public Health and other partners to collate information for a toolkit to reduce teenage pregnancy rates in Fife.
We collated and analysed the feedback from mental health stakeholders at three consultation events across Fife, which forms the basis of the Mental Health Strategy 2013-2020. We also produced the final document: What matters to you?
A journal article on the West Fife Autism Spectrum Pilot (WASP) project has been published:
Wendy Simpson, Carolyn Brown, Nara Nisbet, Ruth Metcalfe, Zoe Claisse, Lorna Watson (2013). Innovations in Practice: A new model of autism spectrum disorder assessment and diagnosis by multiagency community-based teams in primary schools. Child and Adolescent Mental Health, 18(3), 187–190.
(Article first published online 13 July 2012)
We completed a scoping exercise for using reports of patient experiences to shape NHS Fife mental health services.
A journal article has been published about a method of facilitating the disclosure of childhood sexual abuse of women attending pelvic pain clinics:
Julia Neufeind & Margaret Hannah (2012). Talking openly: using ‘6D cards’ to facilitate holistic, patient-led communication. International Journal for Quality in Health Care, 24(1), 49-54.
We worked with Public Health on an evaluation of NHS Fife’s breastfeeding policies. Women who had returned to work from maternity leave were sent a survey asking about their experiences of being a mum in the workplace.
Supervision was provided in 2011 for the research project of two 3rd year St Andrews medical students. The projects involved an evaluation of the Eating Disorders Service in CAMHS.
We carried out an independent evaluation to gather foster carers’ in-depth views about their experience of the Springfield Project. Click here to open the report.
Literature reviews and focus groups were completed as part of the development of the new Flourishing section of the HandsOnScotland toolkit ( The revised website was launched in September 2010.
A mental health and wellbeing section for a new young people’s website was developed with Educational Psychology and Health Promotion (funded by sexual health strategy group).
We were involved in the evaluation of a Mindfulness course which was held at the Institute. Click here to open the report.
We provided support for a visit of Southcentral Foundation, Alaska, to NHS Fife in June 2010
A paper on the Institute model has been published in two journals. The paper outlines the structure, aims and achievements of the Institute:

Wendy Simpson, Graham Buchanan, Graham Monteith (2008). Investing in the mental health of Fife: a sustainable model for increasing mental health workforce capacity to help children flourish. The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice: Issues for workforce development, 3(4), 11-19.

Wendy Simpson, Graham Buchanan, Graham Monteith (2009). Investing in the mental health of Fife: The Playfield Institute. The Journal of Public Mental Health, 8(1), 11-18.
A pilot project investigating the feasibility of assessment and diagnosis of ASD in the community (WASP: West Fife Autism Spectrum Pilot) has been evaluated. The study involved 20 primary-age children and their parents, four schools and approximately 35 community-based mental health staff. Due to the success of the project, the scheme has been funded and rollout will begin in early 2010 across Fife. Click to see the full report or summary. A manual has also been written for the staff who will be involved in the scheme.
Focus groups have been held on behalf of the Springfield Project to investigate foster carers’ opinions of current training provision and needs in terms of training and support. Click here to open the report.
A journal article based on work carried out by two 3rd year medical students, under supervision at the Institute in 2007, has been published:
Wendy Simpson, Lee Cowie, Lucy Wilkinson, Naomi Lock, Graham Monteith (2010). The Effectiveness of a Community Intensive Therapy Team on Young People’s Mental Health Outcomes. Child and Adolescent Mental Health, 15(4), 217-223.
Supervision was provided in 2009 for the research projects of two 3rd year St Andrews medical students. The projects involved looking at multi-agency work on chronic fatigue syndrome.
A study was carried out to evaluate the HandsOnScotland toolkit ( The study involved over 60 frontline workers and assessed the effects of using the toolkit on their skills, confidence and practices. Click here to open the report.
A "7 Habits of Successful Families" pilot course was run and evaluated (following the study into the counselling needs of parents with children who have mental health problems - completed 2007). Click here to open the report of the pilot. Another course has also been run successfully as a result of the pilot.
An evaluation of the Acorn project was carried out, by conducting telephone interviews with parents involved in the project. The Acorn project involves nursery nurses making home visits to help parents of pre-school children with possible behavioural difficulties.
Supervision was provided in 2008 for the research projects of two 3rd year St Andrews medical students. The projects involved looking at some of the data from the HandsOnScotland toolkit evaluation study.
A Mental Health First Aid Kit for children has been designed by the International Futures Forum. We helped in piloting the kit with frontline workers and families.
The research component of Playfield Institute’s development of a national website ( was carried out for HeadsUpScotland, the National project for children and young people’s mental health. This involved consulting with a wide range of frontline workers (N=100) to determine the type of problems they find troubling and the type of advice and techniques they require. Click here to open the report. We had a seconded post from Speech and Language Therapy (Libby Downie) assisting with this research.
The HandsOnScotland website was piloted to check its usability and usefulness (N=16). Click here to open the report.
The Institute supported the Centre for the Vulnerable Child in completing a research project on assessing specialist sexual abuse support workers’ views on the impact of the legal system on their clients.
A study of counselling needs of parents with children who have mental health problems has been completed and a report written. Partners in this study were Education, Clinical Psychology, Speech and Language Therapy and Public Health. Click here to open the report.
A survey of frontline workers’ needs from the Playfield Institute has been conducted. Over 300 workers from health, council and non-statutory agencies responded to the survey (31% response rate). The results are used to help plan the future training programme.