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An introduction to the NEST framework for improving mental health and wellbeing services for babies, children, young people and their families.

First published:
20 April 2023
Last updated:


NEST image

The NEST framework is a planning tool for:

  • Welsh Government
  • Regional Partnership Boards
  • local authorities
  • health boards
  • voluntary sector

It aims to ensure a whole system approach for developing mental health, wellbeing and support services for:

  • babies
  • children
  • young people
  • parents
  • carers
  • wider families

We worked with a number of stakeholders to co-produce the framework, including:

  • children and young people
  • parents and carers
  • health and social care professionals
  • educational institutions
  • third sector service providers

Watch our video for an overview of the NEST framework, why it is needed and what it aims to achieve:

NEST themes

We asked young people what words best described how support for mental health and wellbeing should feel.

They came up with NEST:

  • Nurturing - taken care of and cherished
  • Empowering - feeling strong and listened to
  • Safe - feeling protected and able to be yourself
  • Trusted - reliable and there for you

Core principles

The NEST framework consists of six core principles for improving mental health and wellbeing services:

Trusted adults

This is the most important section of the NEST framework. It describes the importance of those closest to the baby, child or young person in supporting their mental health and wellbeing.

Wellbeing across education

From crèches, to nursery, to school, to sixth form and on to college, education settings are a big part of the lives of babies, children, and young people.

It is vital that they have a good understanding of mental health and wellbeing and take every opportunity to support it.

Co-produced innovations

Babies, children and young people have a right to have their opinion heard and acted upon. The NEST framework says co-production should be at the heart of delivering all mental health and wellbeing services. We use the phrase; ‘nothing about you, without you’.

Easy access to expertise

The NEST framework wants to make expert help and advice more available.

Safe and supportive communities

The NEST framework recognises that lots of different things are important to mental health and wellbeing. We want those delivering mental health support to consider wider determinants of mental health.

No wrong door

Families who seek support for a range of needs sometimes find that they have to navigate a very complex system. We want families to get the right help at the right time and in a way that is right for them.

Learn more about the core principles of the NEST framework

Underpinning values

The NEST framework is underpinned by five shared values for providing good mental health and wellbeing services:

Psychologically informed 

The NEST framework anticipates all services should have access to expertise to enable them to keep up to date with the latest research.

Rights based approach 

A rights based approach is fundamental to all our mental health and wellbeing.

Equity, diversity and inclusion 

To feel included and that you belong and have the same chances as everyone else is fundamental to our mental health and wellbeing. The NEST framework has this as an important priority for all professionals and services to address.

Values led 

All organisations work in different ways and to do different things. This can lead to differences about what to prioritise and focus on. The framework asks everyone to agree and align values to support children with their mental health and wellbeing.

Child development 

All babies, children and young people are unique and develop in different ways. The NEST framework asks that services focus on development rather than the current approach that often has age as its main focus.


To start using the NEST framework within your organisation, you will need to ensure your services follow the core principles.

We are developing a suite of implementation tools to help you do this.

Self-assessment tool

We have co-produced a self-assessment and implementation tool for the NEST framework. This tool helps organisations assess their current understanding and use of NEST principles. It is also an action planning tool to support the implementation of NEST. The tool can be used by any project, team or service.

Please note: schools and other education settings should use the whole school approach to emotional health and wellbeing self evaluation. This supports education settings to embed the key principles of NEST.

For support using the self-assessment please talk to your Regional Partnership Board (page 21 of the document). Or you can attend our regular National NEST self-assessment forum.


We have co-produced two short, 30-minute NEST training sessions. These online sessions can be completed at any time. They give an overview of children’s rights and the NEST framework. They are free to access for all sectors but you will need to make a free account on the training platform.

We also have a recorded workshop available that covers:

  • what is NEST
  • a keynote speech from Dr Karen Treisman on NEST, child development and psychologically informed approaches
  • an introduction to the NEST self-assessment tool and experiences of using it

Case studies

We are working with our stakeholders to produce good practice examples of NEST in action.

Some of our partners have already undertaken case studies. Have a look and see what they have done.

If you have a good practice example to share contact


Reporting on the NEST framework is done through the Regional Partnership Boards.

Projects funded through the Regional Integration Fund are required to report on NEST.

Projects not funded through the Regional Integration Fund are not expected to report on NEST, however, they can use the NEST self assessment tool.

Each Regional Partnership Board has a NEST lead who co-ordinates the implementation of NEST across the region.

The NEST lead in your region can tell you about:

  • local implementation of the framework
  • any reporting arrangements

Find your Regional Partnership Board

Community of Practice

The NEST and Supporting Families Community of Practice brings together people with knowledge and experience in mental health and wellbeing.

Colleagues meet online every two months to compare learning and share good practice.

Each meeting involves:

  • sharing information on NEST and mental health and wellbeing
  • providing advice and solving problems
  • working together on thought-leadership materials

Participants should bring some knowledge and experience of working in mental health and wellbeing.

Register to join the NEST and Supporting Families Community of Practice by emailing


We are keen to hear about your experiences of implementing NEST within your organisation or service.

Contact us by email:

We will continue to update the implementation tools to support the delivery of NEST.