Kent and Medway Mental Health Support Teams
Schools and other education settings play an important role in supporting the emotional wellbeing and mental health of children and young people. They can promote good emotional wellbeing, support the learning of social and emotional skills, reduce the stigma associated with mental health difficulties, and spot potential difficulties early on to support children and young people to get the help they need.
Mental Health Support Teams (MHSTs) are a new government initiative to help increase children and young people’s access to support for emotional wellbeing and mental health. MHSTs are part of the national Children and Young People’s Increasing Access to Psychological Therapies (CYP-IAPT) programme.
MHSTs are a resource in addition to the already existing support in any particular education setting. MHSTs have three main functions:
- To work in collaboration with education staff to develop and implement a Whole School Approach (WSA) to emotional wellbeing and mental health. This includes identifying priorities for WSA and supporting with the delivery of these (e.g. mental health awareness assemblies to reduce stigma, workshops for parents and carers, and supporting staff wellbeing).
- To offer support and guidance to schools, promoting joint working with other services to ensure that children and young people are able to receive the support that they need. This may include training and consultation with education professionals, joined-up problem solving, liaison with other services and signposting.
- To offer evidence-based, time-limited targeted support for difficulties such as low mood, worry and anxiety, low self-esteem/confidence, and to support understanding behaviour. This may be in a group or one-to-one. It may be with children and young people, or it may involve working with parents and carers.
MHSTs are continually expanding across Kent & Medway. Please take a look at our current list of schools.
Kent Emotional Wellbeing Teams & Medway Emotional Support Teams
The voices of the children, young people and families who are supported by our teams play an important role in shaping the design, the delivery and the evaluation of our services. This is often called ‘participation’ or ‘coproduction’.
When we launched the MHSTs in Kent & Medway, it was important that children and young people were able to help us to create the identity of the teams. We worked alongside young people who agreed upon a name for our teams and designed our fantastic logos. We enjoyed working with them on this project and are grateful for all their brilliant ideas!
We continue to work alongside children, young people and their families to develop our service, design new resources and contribute towards our social media presence.
In mental health services, there are often lots of fancy words to explain what we do and why we do it. We know that it is important that these words are fully explained.
What is Whole School Approach?
“A whole-school approach is about developing a positive ethos and culture – where everyone feels that they belong. It involves working with families and making sure that the whole school community is welcoming, inclusive and respectful. It means maximising children’s learning through promoting good mental health and wellbeing across the school – through the curriculum, early support for pupils, staff-pupil relationships, leadership and a commitment from everybody.” (Anna Freud Centre, 2021)
We recognise that each education setting will have different needs, priorities and starting points for embedding a whole school approach. We encourage a systematic approach to developing a whole school approach and recommend the School Toolkit for Resilience and Emotional Wellbeing developed by Headstart Kent. This toolkit guide starts with celebrating good practice already in place to support resilience and wellbeing, and then encourages schools to assess their current approach, identify any gaps and put plans in place to develop this further.
Schools can apply for the Kent Award for Resilience and Emotional Wellbeing.
What is CBT?
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a way to understand the links between our thoughts (what we think), our feelings (how we feel) and our behaviours (what we do). Improving emotional wellbeing and mental health using CBT will focus on working towards a specific goal using techniques that we can use in our everyday lives to feel more in control of our thoughts, feelings and behaviour.
Take a look at these videos which may help explain.
What is targeted support?
Targeted support is the support that you might receive for a specific emotional wellbeing or mental health difficulty. It is targeted towards your specific need (e.g., improving your mood, or reducing anxiety) and may be one-to-one or with a group of young people who have similar difficulties. It is goal-focussed and time-limited. You will have an active role in the sessions, learning strategies that you can put into practice whenever you need them.
What are ROMS?
Routine outcome measures (or ROMs) are a way in which practitioners can work with you to better understand any difficulties. ROMs are often questionnaires. Using ROMs means that we can track progress towards goals and see whether or not what we are doing is helping.
Take a look at this video from CORC (Children's Outcomes Research Consortium), which explains outcome measurement in a nutshell.