Guidance

Promoting and supporting mental health and wellbeing in schools and colleges

Find out what help you can get to develop a whole school or college approach to mental health and wellbeing.

Applies to England

Whole school or college approaches to mental health and wellbeing

Taking a coordinated and evidence-informed approach to mental health and wellbeing in schools and colleges leads to improved pupil and student emotional health and wellbeing. This can help with their learning.

The publication outlining a whole school or college approach was updated for autumn 2021 by Public Health England (PHE) and the Department for Education. This describes the areas to consider to enable good mental health and wellbeing practice.

Before you start developing your approach

You will find it helpful if you first understand how your pre-existing statutory responsibilities on the SEND code of practice, safeguarding and RHSE curriculum relate to mental health and wellbeing, and how they can support the development of your whole school or college approach.

Senior mental health leads training

The Department for Education is encouraging schools and colleges to identify a senior mental health lead who will have strategic oversight of their setting’s whole school or college approach to mental health and wellbeing.

School and college staff are not expected to, and should not, diagnose mental health conditions or perform mental health interventions.

Features

Senior lead training gives senior leaders the knowledge and skills they’ll need to develop an effective whole school or college approach to mental health and wellbeing.

Benefits

This programme will help you to:

  • use your existing resources more effectively
  • promote good mental health and wellbeing in your setting
  • quickly identify individual pupils or students who need support with their mental health
  • work effectively with local children and young people’s mental health services, including Mental Health Support Teams, where they are established

Eligibility

State-funded schools and colleges in England, including those in receipt of ESFA pre-16 revenue, high needs block or 16 to 19 programme funding, are eligible to apply for a grant. Further information on eligible setting types is available in the conditions of grant.

Independent settings with fee-paying pupils and students are not eligible for a grant but may access DfE assured training independently.

Settings that claimed a grant in the 2021 to 2022 financial year are not eligible to apply for further funding.

Senior mental health lead training is not intended to help meet the specific needs of children and young people in early years settings or settings with learners over 18 years old.

Availability

Up to two-thirds of all eligible schools and colleges in England will have the opportunity to benefit from a grant to access quality assured senior mental health lead training by the end of financial year 2022-23. Between October 2021 and March 2022, more than 8,000 schools and colleges had claimed a training grant, including more than 1 in 3 primary schools and colleges, and over half of secondary schools.

Settings ready to further develop or introduce their whole school or college approach to mental health and wellbeing, with capacity to commence training before March 2023, are now encouraged to consult the guidance and arrange training.

We aim to provide the opportunity for all state schools and colleges to access the training by 2025.

Get more information

Senior mental health leads can now search for and book a training course. Senior mental health lead training provides further information on how you can do this.

Training providers

Training providers interested in providing senior mental health lead training can find out more on Contracts finder.

Relationships, sex and health education (RSHE): Mental wellbeing training module

Through the new mandatory health education curriculum, pupils are taught:

  • how to recognise the early signs of mental wellbeing concerns, including common types of mental ill health
  • where and how to seek support
  • who they should speak to in school if they’re worried about their own or someone else’s mental wellbeing

The mental wellbeing training module aims to help schools and colleges:

  • understand what they should teach
  • improve their confidence in delivering mental wellbeing content
  • engage children and young people in conversations about mental health and wellbeing

Who is it for

Subject leads and teaching staff in primary and secondary schools.

Features

This resource helps subject leads and school staff:

  • get the content they need to teach young people about managing their mental health and wellbeing
  • see examples of good practice
  • access training resources and templates they can customise

Benefits

This resource will help them to:

  • understand what they should be teaching
  • become more confident at training teachers or teaching about mental health and wellbeing
  • respect sensitivities

Availability

Ongoing.

Time commitment

The training lasts between 90 and 180 minutes.

How to access the support

Mental Health Support Teams (MHSTs)

Mental Health Support Teams (MHSTs) is a new service designed to help meet the mental health needs of children and young people in primary, secondary and further education (primarily for ages 5 to 18), by providing mental health support in schools, colleges and other education settings such as alternative provision.

By 2023, nearly 400 mental health support teams will be working with and in schools and colleges attended by almost 3 million pupils in England. This will surpass commitments set out in the 2017 mental health green paper.

Who is it for

Schools and colleges in participating areas selected to receive additional mental health and wellbeing support, and extra capacity for early intervention and help for mild to moderate mental health issues.

Eligibility

Only certain local areas will be participating in this programme, and decisions on which schools and colleges are selected are made locally. The approach to working with schools and colleges will be determined by each MHST site with their education partners, including the local authority, NHS England, NHS Improvement and DfE regional leads and integrated community systems.

MHSTs are designed to support all types of education settings, but support is being targeted in the areas where there is the greatest need and the ability to establish teams effectively. Use the NHS website to find out more.

Features and benefits

MHSTs will:

  • deliver evidence-based interventions for mild to moderate mental health issues
  • support senior mental health leads to introduce or develop a whole school or college approach
  • give timely advice to school and college staff, and liaise with external specialist services, to help children and young people get the right support and stay in education

The evaluation

Psychological first aid training

This training sets out how emergencies affect mental health, and what those who work with children, young people and families can do to help. This includes:

  • recognising the common signs of distress across different age groups
  • being able to identify who might be at an increased risk.

Who is it for

All school and college staff who help children and young people aged up to 25 years.

Features

The programme:

  • offers resources and content to teach young people about managing their mental health and wellbeing
  • provides examples of good practice
  • provides access to training resources and templates that you can customise

Benefits

This resource will help you to:

  • support young people who have recently experienced an emergency or crisis
  • offer training to all school or college staff who want it
  • get access to a globally accepted level of training that is recognised by the World Health Organization (WHO)

Availability

Ongoing.

Time investment

One session of between 1 hour 30 mins and 3 hours.

How to access the support

Go to Psychological First Aid: Supporting Children and Young People.

Mental health and wellbeing resources

This list provides sources of mental health and wellbeing support for teachers and others in contact with children and young people.

It will help you to:

  • signpost pupils and students to appropriate support, help and advice
  • provide pupils and students with a list of resources so they can get support on a range of issues independently
  • access advice on prioritising your own wellbeing and mental health

Download the list of mental health and wellbeing resources.

Also:

Support available locally

Your local authority has responsibilities for:

  • promoting and protecting public physical and mental health
  • safeguarding children and young people
  • assessing and supporting children with special educational needs and disabilities

They may be able to:

  • offer support through routine school improvement, health promotion or educational psychology functions
  • direct you to other relevant training and services in your local area
Published 2 June 2021
Last updated 4 July 2022 + show all updates
  1. Updated the figure in 'nearly 500 mental health support teams will be working with and in schools and colleges attended by almost 3 million pupils in England' to 'nearly 400'.

  2. Updated information on whole school and college approach, RSHE and Mental Health Support Teams.

  3. Updated ‘Whole School or College Approach’, ‘Senior mental health leads training’, ‘Mental Health Support Teams (MHSTs)’ and ‘Mental health and wellbeing resources’ sections.

  4. Added a list of mental health and wellbeing resources for teachers, school staff and school leaders.

  5. First published.