Positive Behavioural Support: Enhancing Mental Health Services

Positive Behavioural Support: Enhancing Mental Health Services

Positive Behavioural Support (PBS) is an evidence-based framework designed to improve the quality of life and reduce challenging behaviours among individuals with mental health issues. Rooted in the principles of applied behaviour analysis (ABA), PBS emphasises proactive strategies, personalised interventions, and the empowerment of individuals through skill-building and environmental modifications.

 Core Principles of Positive Behavioural Support

  1. Person-Cantered Approach:

PBS prioritises understanding the individual’s needs, preferences, and life goals. Interventions are tailored to fit the unique context of each person, ensuring that support is meaningful and respectful.

  1. Functional Assessment:

A critical component of PBS is the functional assessment, which involves identifying the underlying causes and triggers of challenging behaviours. This assessment helps in developing effective, individualised strategies to address these behaviours.

  1. Proactive and Preventive Strategies:

Rather than focusing solely on reacting to challenging behaviours, PBS emphasises proactive strategies to prevent these behaviours from occurring. This includes modifying the environment, teaching new skills, and promoting positive interactions.

  1. Skill Development:

Building new skills is a cornerstone of PBS. By enhancing communication, social skills, and coping strategies, individuals are better equipped to meet their needs in appropriate ways.

  1. Collaborative and Inclusive:

PBS involves collaboration among individuals, families, caregivers, and professionals. This inclusive approach ensures that support plans are comprehensive and sustainable.

  1. Quality of Life Focus:

The ultimate goal of PBS is to enhance the overall quality of life for individuals. This includes improving emotional well-being, social inclusion, and personal fulfilment.

 Implementation in Mental Health Services

Assessment and Planning:

Implementation of PBS in mental health services begins with a thorough assessment. This involves collecting detailed information about the individual’s behaviour, medical history, and environmental factors. The assessment informs the development of a personalised support plan that addresses specific needs and goals.

Training and Support:

Training for caregivers and staff is essential to effectively implement PBS. This includes education on understanding behaviour, communication techniques, and intervention strategies. Ongoing support and supervision ensure that the PBS plan is consistently applied and adjusted as needed.

Environmental Adjustments:

Creating supportive environments is a key aspect of PBS. This may involve modifying physical spaces, adjusting routines, and ensuring access to preferred activities and social opportunities. Such adjustments help reduce stressors and promote positive behaviours.

Monitoring and Evaluation:

Continuous monitoring and evaluation are crucial for the success of PBS. Data on behaviour changes and quality of life improvements are regularly collected and analysed. This feedback loop allows for timely modifications to the support plan, ensuring its effectiveness and relevance.

Benefits of Positive Behavioural Support

  1. Reduction in Challenging Behaviours:

Research has shown that PBS effectively reduces the frequency and intensity of challenging behaviours. By addressing the root causes and teaching alternative skills, individuals can better manage their behaviours.

  1. Enhanced Quality of Life:

Individuals supported by PBS often experience improvements in their quality of life. This includes greater independence, better social relationships, and increased participation in meaningful activities.

  1. Empowerment and Inclusion:

PBS empowers individuals by focusing on their strengths and capabilities. This empowerment fosters a sense of autonomy and inclusion, which is particularly important in mental health services.

  1. Positive Outcomes for Caregivers and Professionals:

Caregivers and professionals also benefit from PBS through reduced stress and increased satisfaction. The collaborative nature of PBS fosters a positive and supportive working environment.


Positive Behavioural Support represents a holistic and compassionate approach to managing challenging behaviours in mental health services. By focusing on individual needs, proactive strategies, and skill development, PBS not only reduces challenging behaviours but also enhances the overall quality of life for individuals. The implementation of PBS requires commitment and collaboration among all stakeholders, but the positive outcomes make it a valuable framework for mental health care.

This article was written by Collins Owolabi Shomoye.
Lead PMVA Trainer,
Avalon Care Training Limited

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