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The Role of the Senior Mental Health Lead: What you need to know


Kelly Ofasi

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This blog post was originally published on The Safeguarding Company website >> https://www.thesafeguardingcompany.com/resources/blog/senior-mental-health-lead/

THE ROLE OF THE SENIOR MENTAL HEALTH LEAD: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

The Department for Education has recommended that all schools and colleges in England appoint a senior mental health lead by 2025 and are showing their commitment to this initiative by offering grant funding for schools and colleges to train a senior mental health lead. This may be a new role at your school and many safeguarding leads have had this role added to their already hectic workloads. In this blog, we summarise what the role will achieve and why it is vital to have an open culture to address mental health and wellbeing.

WHAT IS A SENIOR MENTAL HEALTH LEAD? 

You may already have people in charge of the mental health and wellbeing of the students and staff at your organisation; the Senior Mental Health Lead is responsible for a more strategic implementation and planning role. If the school you are working in is very large you may have several mental health leads with the senior mental health lead responsible for strategy, planning and coordination.  

SENIOR MENTAL HEALTH LEAD WHAT THE JOB ENTAILS  

The Senior Mental Health Lead is responsible for creating a whole-school approach to supporting mental health and wellbeing as well as an open culture in which staff and students alike can discuss their mental health and wellbeing openly. Other aspects of the role include: 

  • Promoting good mental health and emotional wellbeing for staff and students alike 
  • Developing a whole-school approach to support mental wellbeing 
  • Educating students on mental health and wellbeing 
  • Training staff to identify signs and symptoms of emerging mental health needs in students  
  • Have a clear process in which staff can report concerns  
  • Have a clear process of managing all mental health concerns 
  • Have systems in place for students to seek help if they need it 
  • Have policies in place to support students through referrals to specialists  
  • Know what local and national help and support is available out of school 

WHO IS BEST TO CARRY OUT THIS ROLE? 

It is best for a senior member of staff to carry out this role, such as a Headteacher, Deputy Headteacher or another member of the senior leadership team. We have seen several safeguarding leads take on this role and feel overwhelmed, so it is best to have a member of the senior leadership team who is solely focused on mental health and wellbeing. 

Developing a whole-school approach to mental health and creating an open culture within your school is no easy task and not something that can be achieved quickly. Therefore, it is important that the people appointed as senior mental health lead can influence change in your setting.  

MENTAL HEALTH LEAD TRAINING 

The Department of Education is offering grants for a senior member of staff of a school or college to access quality assured training. This training will ensure these senior mental health leads can implement an effective whole-school approach to mental health and wellbeing in your setting. 

This training is for state-funded schools and colleges in England and the aim of the courses are to meet the learning needs and preferences of senior leads whatever their level of experience, type of setting or location.  

Existing mental health leads or those who have previously had mental health and wellbeing training can still be nominated for this training. However, if your existing mental health lead is not a member of the senior leadership team the organisation will need to consider whether the individual has the authority, capacity and support to influence the strategic change needed within your establishment.   

Read more about the grants for training HERE. These grants are available until the 31st of May 2022.  

UPDATING YOUR ORGANISATION'S MENTAL HEALTH AND WELLBEING POLICY

You can reflect on your setting’s existing approach to mental health and wellbeing using the following: 

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