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MHST Principles

Mental Health Support Team (MHST) Operating Principles 

The following operating principles have been developed to support the delivery of the MHST programme, as part of the wider MHST operating model. They should be implemented by MHST governance and education settings to ensure the effective roll out of the programme. 

There should be clear and appropriate local governance involving health and education

The MHST project board/oversight group should include representatives from health and education backgrounds working collaboratively.  As a minimum, governance should include representation from the leadership of local NHS funded mental health care providers, education leaders from MHST education settings, commissioners, Local Authorities, children and young people, families and carers. Governance could also helpfully include representation from voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations (VCSE), Public Health England, school and college heads or principals, and/or governors and representatives from the wider education sector. Governance arrangements should have clear feedback and escalation processes in place.

MHSTs should be additional to and integrated with existing support 

MHSTs are trained to deliver specific mental health support to children and young people and to support schools and colleges. The team’s contribution should always be considered additional and complementary to existing support available in education settings and the wider community. The MHSTs should work with the mental health support that is already provided by existing professionals, such as school or college-based counsellors, educational psychologists, school nurses, pastoral care, educational welfare officers, voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations, local authority provision, primary care and NHS Children Young People Mental Health (CYPMH) services.

The approach to allocating MHST time and resources to education settings should be transparent and agreed by the local governance board  

The allocation of MHST time and resources should be agreed by the governance board, in partnership with education settings and should be broadly based on pupil and student numbers.  This could be adjusted for disadvantage or inequality or other factors known to influence prevalence such as age, gender and other demographic indicators if the governance board agrees there is a case to do so. 

MHST support should be responsive to individual education settings needs, not ‘one size fits all’ 

MHSTs should work with the senior mental health lead in each education setting to scope and design – within the skills, capabilities and capacity of the MHST staff – the support offer, gaining an understanding of the characteristics relevant to the particular setting and needs of their children and young people. 

Children and young people should be able to access appropriate support all year (not just during term time). 

The MHST service provider will ensure that children, young people and their families and carers who require interventions during educational holidays receive them, where possible from an MHST.  Where this is not possible, the MHST should make the necessary arrangements to ensure the continuity of treatments where this is clinically indicated. The location of support given out of term will be determined by the resources available to the MHST.

MHSTs should co-produce their approach and service offer with users

MHSTs approach should be planned, developed and delivered in true partnership with children and young people, and their families and carers, to adequately reflect the needs of the individual, their support network, the education setting needs and the wider community.

MHSTs should be delivered in a way to take account of disadvantage and seek to reduce health inequalities

MHSTs should work to consider ways in which health needs and inequalities are addressed and that take account of disadvantage.  They may need to develop specific protocols for working with particular groups to achieve this.



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