FAQ's

What is an MHST?

The Mental Health Support Teams (MHST) are a new service designed to help meet the mental health needs of children and young people in education settings. They are made up of senior clinicians and higher-level therapists and Education Mental Health Practitioners (EMHPs). Senior clinicians and higher-level therapists within the team will be responsible for the supervision and management of EMHPs within the team. The MHSTs will work with the mental health supports that already exist, such as counselling, educational psychology, school nurses, pastoral care, educational welfare officers, VCSEs, the local authority, including children’s social care, and NHS CYPMH services. They will be based across education settings as an additional resource within a whole-system approach to promote resilience and wellbeing, support earlier intervention, enable appropriate signposting and deliver evidence-based support, care, and interventions.

What age range do the MHST work with?

The MHSTs will primarily support students from the age of 5 to their 18th birthday.

What are the MHST core functions?

The MHSTs will deliver 3 core functions:

Delivering evidence-based interventions for children and young people with mild-to-moderate mental health problems

Supporting the senior mental health lead in each education setting to introduce or develop their whole school/college approach

Giving timely advice to school and college staff, and liaising with external specialist services, to help children and young people to get the right support and stay in education

Implementing the 3 core MHST functions is expected to achieve several positive outcomes, including:

  • Better mental health and wellbeing amongst children and young people with improved quality of life for children, young people and their families and carers, including better functioning in all aspects of life and greater continuity in education, leading to better educational outcomes and improved long-term job prospects
  • A reduction in mental health problems extending into adulthood, leading to a reduction in the associated financial and social costs of mental health care across the lifespan
  • Education settings feel better equipped and supported to provide support to children and young people to look after their own mental health and encourage children and young people to seek help if required, gaining a better understanding of their mental health and wellbeing needs
  • An improvement in appropriate referrals (to NHS CYPMH services) through improved identification of need and assessment, and by addressing emerging problems that would otherwise escalate and lead to children and young people requiring treatment from NHS CYPMH services
  • A more positive experience for children and young people and parents and carer with improved knowledge and confidence in dealing with mental health issues

What is a whole school/college approach?

It is important for MHSTs to be aware of the action government is taking to support mental health and wellbeing in education, as outlined below, to help them understand how they can support settings and the framework their support fits into. MHSTs should understand the wider policies and guidance schools operate within. One of the core functions of the teams is to support the introduction or development of the whole school/college approach as outlined below.

A whole school/college approach is one that pervades all aspects of school/college life, including:

  • Culture, ethos, and environment: the health and wellbeing of children and young people and staff is promoted through the ‘hidden’ or ‘informal’ curriculum, including leadership practice, the school’s policies, values and attitudes, together with the social and physical environment.
  • Teaching: using the curriculum to develop children and young people’s knowledge about health and wellbeing; and
  • Partnerships with families and the community: proactive engagement with families, outside agencies, and the wider community to promote consistent support for children’s health and wellbeing

Targeted support

One of the key functions of the MHSTs is to deliver evidence-based interventions for children and young people with mild-to-moderate mental health problems. MHSTs carry out interventions alongside established provisions such as counselling, educational psychology, and school nurses building on the menu of support already available and not replacing it. The MHST will provide:

  • Individual face to face work: for example, effective, brief, low-intensity interventions for children, young people and families experiencing anxiety, low mood, friendship, or behavioural difficulties, based on up-to-date evidence
  • Group work for children and young people, students or parents for conditions such as self-harm and anxiety.
  • Group parenting classes to include low intensity group approaches to issues around conduct disorder, communication difficulties

MHSTs work with children, young people, families, and carers to:

  • Help them better understand their own mental health and to advocate for themselves
  • Make use of assets or resources in the education setting or wider community, such as parent support groups and anti-bullying programmes, and linking with community groups or activities

Supporting the senior mental health lead in each education setting to introduce, develop and support in the delivery of their whole school/college approach

In mapping the provision, MHSTs work with settings to look at what is already being provided through existing pastoral services and any positive mental health promotion programmes.

Giving timely advice to school and college staff, and liaising with external specialist services, to help children and young people to get the right support and stay in education

The MHST work with education settings and help and advise them to get appropriate levels of support for children and young people and help them stay in education. Education staff have expertise in areas such as behavioural problems and will know about issues within the education setting such as friendship dynamics and the wider background of individual students.

Examples of activities to support school and college staff might include:

  • Providing case-by-case advice on higher level/ more complex presentations in individual pupils and strategies for supporting those pupils in school.
  • Supporting schools and colleges on their day-to-day interactions with vulnerable pupils and approaches to make their experience of school as positive as possible to encourage attendance and facilitate good outcomes
  • Consulting with schools on training for staff and linking schools with third party providers if and where needs for training on specific issues, e.g. attachment awareness, suicide prevention
  • Providing training or workshops for school staff on thresholds for CYPMHS referrals and how CYPMHS processes work and have facilitated partnership working and access to other local services and partners.