Mental Health Support Team Research Clinic

What are the Mental Health Support Teams?

Schools play an important role in the lives of young people. Most young people spend much of their time at school and attend the same setting over several years. For young people facing adversities at home, schools can play an especially important role as places of safety, and consistency. This has resulted in a novel approach with the implementation of school-based mental health support teams (MHSTs).

The MHSTs are a new service designed to help meet the mental health needs of children and young people in education settings. MHSTs enable children and young people (CYP) to access help early before their difficulties become severe and require specialist services. They are made up of senior clinicians and higher-level therapists and Education Mental Health Practitioners (EMHPs). Education Mental Health Practitioners (EMHPs), a new role, are being trained to deliver low intensity interventions specifically in the school context. The MHSTs also work with schools to promote the concept of “whole school approach” to mental health and emotional wellbeing, focusing on prevention. This is to ensure that children and young people get the right help at the right time to stay in education and remain socially connected.

The MHSTs will work with the provisions that are currently in place to support children and young people's mental health and wellbeing. They will be based across education settings as an additional resource within a whole-system approach to promote resilience and wellbeing, support earlier intervention, enable appropriate signposting and deliver evidence-based support, care and interventions. The MHST should not displace or replace any support which already exists.

The three core functions of the MHSTs are:
  1. Delivering evidence-based interventions for children and young people with mild-to-moderate mental health problems.
  2. Supporting the senior mental health lead in each education setting to introduce or develop their whole school/college approach to mental health.
  3. Giving timely advice to school and college staff, and liaising with external specialist services, to help children and young people to get the right support and stay in education.
What is the MHST Research Clinic?

The main aim of the clinic is to address the need for research to be undertaken to establish the effectiveness of this new provision (MHSTs) and whether the low intensity interventions, and delivery format, are appropriate.

The MHST Research Clinic is funded by the Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (SPFT). The clinic is co-led by Clare Dixon (Clinical Lead for West Sussex Mental Health Support Teams in Schools, SPFT and West Sussex County Council), Faith Orchard (Lecturer in Psychology, University of Sussex) and Mary John (Clinical Research Fellow and Head of Department of Psychological Intervention, SPFT and University of Surrey).

There will be many learning opportunities for the trust, clinic staff, clinical psychology trainees and other researchers, to undertake novel research as well as developing new collaborations. These partnerships will enable us to attract research funding to sustain and develop the clinic. 

For more information on the Mental Heatlth Support teams in schools, please click here.