The ‘Transforming Children and Young People’s Mental Health Provision: A Green Paper’, published in December 2017, sets out the government’s proposals for creating a strong network of support in schools. As part of these proposals, the government has pledged to support all schools to identify and train a designated mental health lead.
What does a mental health lead do?
The mental health lead is responsible for implementing a whole-school approach towards mental health to promote good mental wellbeing and resilience amongst pupils and staff. In particular, they are responsible for:
- Overseeing the whole-school approach towards mental health and wellbeing, including how it is reflected in the design of behaviour policies, curriculum and pastoral support, how staff are supported with their own wellbeing and how pupils and parents are engaged.
- Supporting the identification of pupils at risk of, or showing signs of, mental ill health.
- Gaining knowledge of the local mental health services and working with clear links into pupils’ mental health services to refer pupils to NHS services where it is appropriate.
- Coordinating the mental health needs of pupils and overseeing the delivery of interventions where these are being delivered in school.
- Supporting staff in contact with pupils with mental health needs to help raise awareness and give all staff the confidence to work with pupils.
- Overseeing the outcomes of interventions for pupils’ education and wellbeing.
Who can be a mental health lead?
There is no requirement for the mental health lead to be a mental health professional. The government also highlighted that education staff should not diagnose mental health conditions or be required to deliver mental health interventions.
Mental health leads are likely to be members of staff in senior positions, who can take a strategic overview of the school’s approach towards mental health.
The government has stressed that a mental health lead is not a statutory requirement, highlighting that schools should have the flexibility to deliver the role so that it fits within their existing staff responsibilities and approach to supporting mental health and wellbeing.
How will the mental health lead be trained?
The government aims to ensure that training for mental health leads is based on evidence and good practice, specifying that training for the role should be substantial and appropriately long-term. Specifically, the training will:
- Provide clarity on how the role is beneficial to the school; and
- Outline how responsibilities can be delivered in effective and manageable ways that are adaptable to different types of schools.
The government will ensure that training is made available to every mental health lead in each school, rather than provide funding based on pupil numbers.
The aim is for the government to offer training to every mental health lead in a school by 2025. Training will be offered to 20 percent of schools from September 2019.
Additional provision will be commissioned if there are not sufficient high-quality courses that can be delivered.
If your school will be assigning a mental health lead, think about who is best suited for the role – use our interview questions to help you recruit the right candidate.
Department of Health & Social Care and DfE (2018) ‘Government Response to the Consultation on Transforming Children and Young People’s Mental Health Provision: a Green Paper and Next Steps’
Ward, H., (2018) ‘Need to know: School mental health leads’, <https://www.tes.com/news/need-know-school-mental-health-leads> [Accessed: 25 September 2018]