Senior Mental Health Lead Training SMHL


smhl training areas

The Burden Basket is delighted to invite applications for the Senior Mental Health Lead training which has been approved and is on the DfE quality assured list.  You can research your best option on the Leeds Beckett website:

Sign up on Eventbrite:

We’re offering a course for those that are new or have some experience of being a mental health lead.  The days training will cover the 8 principles, provide a self-assessment tool to be completed and an audit tool for schools to use a theory of change model to implement ideas to support pupils and the whole school community’s mental health.  After the training day each participant can access 1: 1 coaching and group support for sharing ideas, feedback and resources.  As a team of trainers, we represent education, health and social care.  Having delivered school-based mental health training and interventions for over 10 years we believe we are well placed to offer strong support to schools that are equally passionate about supporting students’ mental health.

Training day content and aims:

Whole school approach to student mental health – whole day

Unit 1: What is mental health?

Definitions and current research on CYP MH. Think together about what services are available locally and how to refer to local services. Consider how schools know when to refer a student.

– Identifying need & monitoring impact of interventions​
– Targeted support and appropriate referral

Unit 2: Understanding risk and resilience factors that impact on CYP development, learning and social/emotional growth


– Ethos and environment that promotes respect and values diversity ​
-Curriculum, teaching and learning to promote resilience and support emotional and social learning

Unit 3: Formulation, referrals

Introduce attendees to tools for formulation (5P’s) and audit tools for evaluating student MH. This enables clear articulation of the presenting MH problem for the individual (targeted or specialist intervention) and the development of a whole school plan for student MH. In small groups consider the alternative tools and practice using them.

– Enabling student voice to influence decisions​
– Working with parents and carers

Unit 4: Signs and symptoms of MH presentation in CYP. Considering in particular anxiety, trauma and low mood

Strategies to help

– Staff development to support their own wellbeing and that of students
– Leadership and management that supports and champions efforts to promote emotional health and wellbeing

The training will deepen attendee knowledge and understanding of CYP MH to better target school resources to support pupils’ mental health. Subsequent opportunities for 1:1 coaching and group discussion will offer space for the MH Lead to deepen understanding through discussion and to think through their own school challenges and how best to improve/develop the MH/wellbeing of the whole school community.

Problems to be solved

Increase MH Leads’ understanding and knowledge of CYP MH – the signs and symptoms and how to assess/formulate these to best address the concern through a school pathway, as appropriate for the child. This also ensures clear referrals to other services when appropriate.

Plan, Study, Do, Act: Audit and develop a baseline to better understand the whole school MH thus enabling the school to target greatest area of need involving everyone in the school community. This encourages an ethos that MH affects everyone and is therefore everyone’s business.

Using the formulation to develop appropriate interventions for identified need within the school community or to make good referrals. This will ensure a careful use of available resources.

The ultimate aim is for MH Leads to develop the knowledge and skills to implement an effective whole school approach to mental health that is proactive, considered and effective. Tools will be provided to self-assess the school against the 8 principles of a whole school/college to promote awareness of mental health and wellbeing.

Termly, we will offer an opportunity to meet together (online) to review the MH Leads’ progress on developing whole school MH. The termly Community of Practice (CoP) will offer different ways to consult and facilitate helpful conversations for MH Leads to assist each other. Between meetings we will share local and national up-dates and recommended reading to encourage MH Leads to look into what is already established to complement their learning and networking.

One training day = 7 hours

Individual coaching = 3 hours

Group support = 7.5 (termly CoP groups)

Recommended Reading and Resources:

-Department of Health (2015) Future in Mind – promoting, protecting and improving our children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing. London: Department of Health.

-Transforming Children and Young People’s Mental Health Provision: a Green Paper.

– The state of children’s mental health services 2020/21

-Ofsted (April 2021) Education Inspection Framework.

-Promoting children and young people’s emotional health and wellbeing: A whole school and college approach

-Counselling in schools: A blueprint for the future. DfE 2015


Implimenting Strategic Change

Learn from and share with peers

Group discussion and activities during the training day will provide space to learn and share with peers. These opportunities allow MH Leads to share ideas and learning from their experiences to date. The training will set the ethos of open, non-judgemental communication and a safe space to talk.

There will be 3 groups, following on from the training, to monitor progress and share learning, successes and challenges along the way. These will be facilitated termly. At each meeting there will be a target set that will allow scrutiny to record the progress reached towards achieving the whole school goal. This target will have been set at the training day. There will also be 1:1 opportunities to discuss progress via the audit and plans.

Evaluate the current whole school or college approach to the principle(s)

MH Leads will be encouraged to develop a whole school plan using the self -assessment tool, or alternative of choice, to self-rate the current whole school approach to pupils’ mental health. This can be monitored at group or 1:1 meetings.

There are a plethora of tools available – some at cost, some free. Due to the earlier challenge for schools of having limited budgets all suggestions will be freely available for schools to use. Schools will be encouraged to develop a ‘wellbeing’ team that regularly monitors and tracks progress toward their agreed aim. This team should include, and information shared with, all of the stakeholders from the pupils, parents, governors and community. This may be a simple goal-based outcome. The best methods are often the simplest. Recognising the busyness of education means the recommendation will be to collect less, but collect it well and analyse it so as to come to good purpose. Ensure the voice of the child and parent is heard and listened to. Any audit needs to include the voice of the most important people – the children that the school serve.

Create an effective plan to improve their setting’s approach to mental health

Use the Emotional and Mental Health Whole School Audit to rag-rate and self-assess areas requiring more attention. There is an action plan to encourage MH Leads to record information and this will be monitored throughout the year. Leads are encouraged to set goals and rate themselves and also to think of next steps to make good progress. We will be encouraging participation with the students as well. This might be via the student council/group. If schools don’t have one they will be invited to learn from other Leads about how they might go about developing a school council. Using the participation of pupils ensures that schools can identify the true needs and gaps. Pupils are also excellent at coming up with ideas.

Receive individual feedback on that plan from a trainer

This would be provided during the online groups and 1:1 coaching sessions. All MH Leads will be invited to submit their action plan and goal up-date prior to the meeting, which would develop as a community of Practice of MH Leads/Senior Leadership. The plans would also be reviewed during the planned 1:1 coaching sessions. These meetings and opportunities will ensure MH Leads are keeping the strategic plan tight and managing changes on their agenda and are supported to keep driving it forward. This may include preparing the system for change and supporting the MH Lead to do this.

Embed and sustain improvements beyond the course

MH Leads will be encouraged to continue with the Community of Practice. This will allow them to continue to share ideas and good practice and can act as a peer consultation group. Good practice may be to have one group session to give the knowledge/skills and practice of setting up a reflective practice group which can then look at problem-solving. Having established the wellbeing team and setting up regular audits, the school will have the skills and tools to develop an ever-evolving programme for whole school MH support.

Meet The Training Team:

Rachel Rayner

Qualified Social Worker SW80034/BASW membership

Rachel has worked as school-based CAMHS practitioner(2005-2012), followed by developing a school-based mental health training and support package commissioned by local CCG’s. Over the years the team (below) have worked with primary, infant, middle, junior, secondary and special provision schools. This has enabled Rachel to develop a deep understanding of the dynamics of supporting primary aged children versus teenagers, versus young people with neurodevelopment/learning difficulties; sharing knowledge of brain development and impact of life experiences on the brain and therefore,emotions and behaviour.

The team liaise with all levels of education staff through meetings – informally and formally and deliver workshops and training to all education staff as well as offering debriefing/consultation to groups following incidents or when discussing families in need. Whole school/inset day training is often challenging when staff are resistant to meeting MH needs of vulnerable young people. We are respectful of all opinions and experience and acknowledge that the ethos of a school can be best influenced by the senior leadership team.

The HOPE Project team are skilled and knowledgeable. We benefit from a range of professional experience across health, education and local authority. This enables us to ensure a holistic approach to school MH issues.

The team meets regularly for peer supervision and school MH discussions to ensure keep up-to-date with national policies, DofE policies/papers as well as trying to anticipate future challenges for schools.

Emma Pearce

Qualified Social Worker since 1997. Registered with Social Work England and continues with BASW Membership. Emma’s social work career has spanned working within a safeguarding role, then a looked after children role prior to moving into therapeutic social work with children and families. Emma went on to undertake a CAMHS team manager role, focussing on meeting the mental health needs of children in care. Emma currently practices as an independent therapeutic social worker and delivers support to children in residential care and adoptive families; as well as being a member of the HOPE Project (Helping Our Pupils’ Emotions).

Since qualifying, in all of the above roles, Emma has worked alongside the education sector either to support the education of specific children or to develop understanding of the needs of children in care through consultation and training. Also raising awareness of the role that early trauma and abuse has on the development of the brain and therefore learning. Given the mental health needs of children in care, this has led to working with a range of education providers and sustaining working partnerships that support the needs of the child whilst balancing the expectations of the organisation and the need to demonstrate progress. This work has led to an increased ability to develop and maintain good working relationships which reflect different perspectives and understanding . This whilst highlighting need and the impact of potential change on both an individual and systemic level within a school setting. Through the adoption of a holistic and systemic approach to mental health and understanding, Emma has been able to work through resistance from senior leadership teams to build effective discussion and reflection on mental health and the needs of children and young people in a variety of educational settings.

Monica Cru-Hall

Qualified teacher, qualified SENDco. Monica has experience of working across all key stages in settings such as schools, colleges, universities, pupil referral units and other alternative provisions, including secure and criminal educational establishments.

As a teacher, and previous senior leader, Monica can engage with educators and senior management teams in a language that comes from experience of being in their shoes. This enables the connection which then allows for change to be considered. Monica is also a qualified psychotherapeutic therapist using creative therapies. Monica’s knowledge straddles the education and health sectors.