Mental Health Leads in Schools 

The government Green Paper recommends that all schools and colleges have a designated lead for mental health (DLMH) by 2025. Many now have one in place.

Designated mental health leads in schools and colleges are not expected to be mental health professionals.

It is not a requirement for the designated mental health lead to be a senior leader, but schools tell us that Mental Health Leads who are either on the senior leadership team (SLT) or have support from the SLT are likeliest to be able to implement whole-school change and improvements efficiently. A governor with a lead for wellbeing is also a really good idea.

Responsibilities of the designated lead should be written into the job description and should include developing a whole-school approach which can provide a 'route map' for an effective, evidence-based approach to the role.

So what should the role involve?

‘Putting whole school/college approaches in place, ensuring a coordinated approach.’ (DFE, 2018)

Key Tasks:

  • Overseeing whole school approaches
  • Identifying at risk children
  • Linking to NHS services
  • Coordinating interventions and tracking their success
  • Supporting and training staff

The key aspects of the designated senior lead role are:

Contributing to promoting good mental health and emotional wellbeing amongst pupils of all ages by:

  • Developing a whole school approach to support mental wellbeing
  • Teaching about mental health and wellbeing through a programme of PSHE
  • Playing a key part in identifying emerging mental health needs of pupils by:
    • Making sure staff can recognise signs and symptoms of mental health needs in pupils and know what to do should they have a concern
    • Referring those pupils on to health professionals for appropriate specialist support and treatment by:
      • Having a clear process to follow where a concern is raised about a pupil’s mental wellbeing
      • Developing links with specialist mental health services
      • Knowing what local and national help and support is available in order that these can be signposted to pupils and their families to access help and support
  • Supporting and managing pupils with mental health needs in the school environment and in their learning by: 
    • Ensuring staff are equipped with the skills to support and manage pupils with mental health needs in their learning
    • Where appropriate, sharing information about pupils who are experiencing any mental health issues with those who work with them in school so that they can be supported in the school environment

(From an article by Sarah Hannafin, Policy Advisor with the NAHT)

Cornwall Mental Health Leads in Schools Network 

DfE have been promising training for leads but the pandemic has meant significant delays. Headstart working with the Education Psychology Service and other partners across Cornwall have started planning our own, building on the success of our work together on the Weathering the Storm Wellbeing Webinars. This training is open to every school and setting in Cornwall a

The newly formed Cornwall MH Leads Network will provide support / training / resources and bring together Leads to share ideas / information and mutual support. 

More information about the network and a network forum can be found on the Cornwall Wellbeing Hub which will be a central area to access training / resources / network sessions

As a designated lead where could I start?

We'd suggest with a focus on a Whole School Approach to emotional wellbeing and mental health and by working with the whole school community to create a mental health policy appropriate to the needs of the school. DfE will be funding training for Leads from Autumn 2021 and there is existing training and support out there.