Designated mental health and wellbeing lead: guidance and resources

Been appointed as your school’s mental health lead but unsure where to start? Use these resources to help prepare you for the role

By 2025, the government aims for every school and college to have a designated wellbeing or mental health lead. It will be the responsibility of the designated lead to:

  • oversee the whole-school approach to wellbeing
  • provide staff with the knowledge and confidence to understand and recognise signs of poor mental health in pupils and know where to go with any concerns
  • oversee the provision the school gives to pupils with mental health difficulties
  • manage how staff are supported with their own mental health
  • be proactive in developing links with specialist services, referring pupils if they need to.

For a detailed overview of the role and how schools can get the most out of this initiative, see our designated mental health lead: what it means for schools.

To help evaluate the skills and knowledge needed to fulfil the responsibilities of a wellbeing lead, download our skills audit template for designated wellbeing leads.

A whole-school approach

The wellbeing lead is responsible for overseeing a whole-school approach to mental health and wellbeing, including how this approach is reflected in policies. For help demonstrating that wellbeing is at the heart of your school, take a look at our policy templates:

A whole-school approach also means creating a resilient environment for pupils, ensuring that mental health and emotional resilience is being discussed in the curriculum. 

Oversee provision for pupils with mental health difficulties

The wellbeing lead is responsible for coordinating the school’s provision for pupil’s mental health needs. For a greater understanding of what mental health provision looks like in practice, take a look at how schools can provide for the needs of the individual. 

This includes overseeing interventions. Unsure of which resources are available for schools? Our quality interventions for SEMH will show you a range of early intervention approaches that can be adopted by school leaders and teachers to support pupils with SEMH.

As well as co-ordinating interventions, the wellbeing lead should meet regularly with pupils to discuss their overall wellbeing and any problems they’re facing in or outside school. Download the keeping a record of interactions template to help you maintain clarity and consistency in your provision for mental health issues.

Mental health awareness

The wellbeing lead plays an integral part in ensuring that staff are able to recognise signs and symptoms of poor mental health and what to do should they have a concern.

Given that staff may be faced with pupils with a range of mental health problems, it’s important that they have a varied skillset to support each child effectively.

See our pupil mental health and wellbeing: guidance for staff for a compilation of resources to make sure staff can recognise the many facets of mental health. 

Anxiety

One of the most common mental health issues that staff come across is anxiety. Teachers need to look beyond a pupil’s behaviour and know how to recognise what it causing the distress.

Take a look at our strategies and activities for managing anxiety to give staff the confidence to talk to their pupils and signpost them towards resources where they can learn to manage their symptoms.

Suicide

Perhaps one of the most difficult situations staff may have to deal with is supporting a pupil with suicidal thoughts. Many people fear that having a conversation with someone who is suicidal will make the situation more distressing, however talking about suicide can help the person manage their feelings and know where to go for further help.

Our talking to young people about suicide offers helpful things for staff to say to pupils who have been affected by suicide, or have experienced suicidal ideation themselves.

Warning signs

Whilst each disorder is different, there are many similarities in the early warning signs and those at risk that staff need to look out for. Staff may even save a child’s life by being aware of these signs – see our recognising and responding to the warning signs for further advice.

Staff wellbeing

As well as overseeing pupil mental health, the designated wellbeing lead will also be responsible for overseeing how staff are supported with their own wellbeing. Writing a staff wellbeing survey to find out what staff really think about wellbeing in the workplace is a good starting point.

What do we do for staff wellbeing? is another useful starter tool. Download these prompts and questions to remind yourself what your school already does to support staff wellbeing and discover strategies to help with areas including planning and marking, CPD and emails and meetings. It's also worth evaluating which strategies or interventions have or haven't worked well. See our demonstrating the impact of staff wellbeing for guidance. 

Finally, print out our staff wellbeing poster to put up in offices or staffrooms as a reminder of key steps to improving wellbeing, demonstrating your school’s commitment to supporting a healthy work-life balance.

Last Updated: 
30 Sep 2019