The Designated School Leader in Mental Health has whole school responsibility for mental health and is focused on the strategic leading of mental health across the school, including curriculum, staff and working with parents or carers.
The School Mental Health Specialist is a more ‘hands on’ role – focused on direct work in supporting pupils, liaising with parents of those pupils and external agencies for the care of those pupils.
The Designated School Leader in Mental Health will be a confident, able and well informed leader able to demonstrate leadership across the school. They will understand and apply national policy to their context and be able to evaluate the latest evidence and thinking on the strategic role of mental health within education.
The School Mental Health Specialist will be a confident, skilled and able colleague offering mental health support to pupils, and effective communication with parents and outside agencies. They will have a deep understanding of the main perspectives of mental health within education and deploy these to support pupils.
In an ideal scenario the Designated School Leader in Mental Health should line manage the School Mental Health Specialist. We understand that some schools or colleges will not have this set up and therefore it is recommended that a member of SLT support and manage the School Mental Health Specialist.
The Designated School Leader in Mental Health ensures safe, professional and effective practice exists across the setting.
The School Mental Health Specialist provides specialist support and guidance and assist other staff in doing the same.
Masters — School Leadership of Mental Health and Wellbeing:
Global Perspectives on Mental Health in Schools
Resilience Across the School
Whole School Mental Health – A
Whole School Mental Health – B
Working with Local Mental Health Services
PGDIP — School Mental Health Specialist programme:
Promoting Protective Factors for Good Mental Health and Wellbeing
Early Identification of Mental Health Support Needs
Supporting Children and Young People with Mental Health Needs
Parent/Carer Involvement and Pupil Participation to Support Good Mental Health and Wellbeing
Working with School Staff and Outside Agencies
Sustaining and Embedding Positive Mental Health and Wellbeing
The Designated School Leader in Mental Health will have an expert knowledge, understanding and application of the whole school approach to mental health, including relevant policy. They will be confident in deepening their own understanding of mental health in school and colleges by looking internationally and having deep self-knowledge.
The School Mental Health Specialist will be confident in promoting mental health across the school, identifying pupils with needs, supporting these pupils, working with identified parents and outside agencies. They will have a plan for future development of mental health support.
They are public mental health qualifications, focused at whole school and community level mental health support, pre-clinical intervention. This aligns to Department for Education policy which makes clear that mental health colleagues in schools should not be providing clinical diagnosis and treatments.
The government’s recommendation is for all schools to have a Designated School Leader in Mental Health. The Leadership of Mental Health and Wellbeing course will give you a secure knowledge base to complete this role based on evidence.
In addition, many schools seek and are in need of in-depth mental health support, such as the School Mental Health Specialist, and training for their staff and students.
The Designated School Leader in Mental Health is a whole school, senior leadership role. It is not focused on supporting individual children with treatments.
The School Mental Health Specialist is focused on the promotion of mental health, the prevention of mental ill-health and support for those needing it, rather than clinical treatment.