Mental Health Support Teams (MHST)
In December 2017, the government published a Green Paper outlining plans to develop child and adolescent mental health provision with a focus on schools, with 2 key recommendations:
• Establishing a designated mental health lead in every school, and
• Creating Mental Health Support Teams (MHSTs) linked to schools
In December 2018 following a successful bid, Hounslow was selected as one of 20 national Trailblazer (pilot) sites for the Green Paper.
The MHST consisted of mainly education wellbeing practitioners, trained to provide brief, evidence-based support based on Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) principles.
It is designed to act as a preventive service and as a step-down from specialist CAMHS (fits at the very bottom of Tier 2 CAMHS).
There are three different levels of service that our school is able to now help pupils access.
This is a new model of low-level mental health support being coordinated by schools rather than GP services.
3 levels of service:
- Education Wellbeing Practitioner
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapist
- Neuro-Development Team
- Education Wellbeing Practitioner (EWP):
This new service fits at the very bottom of Tier 2 CAMHS (see diagram below) and is an early help intervention. It is a Low level 'preventative' service - aiming to give pupils self-help tools early before mental health concerns escalate.
Guided Self Therapy (GSH) is a low-intensity therapy which is recommended by NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) guidelines for a first step treatment option for many problems.
An 'Education Wellbeing Practitioner' will be visiting school to work with a pupil for 8-week course. The sessions involve guided self-help strategies such as graded exposure and require students to actively engage with tasks given.
This is for students with mainly low-level anxiety and low mood. The more complex needs e.g. current self-harm will need to be looked at on a case by case basis.
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
If pupils are assessed by the EWP as being too high level for their service, they are referred to our Cognitive Behavioural Therapist in the same Tier 2 Early Help CAMHS team.
CBT is for more complex cases than those seen by the EWP. CBT involves thought challenging and thought changing.
CBT involves the practitioner working with a pupil to focus on their problem and break it down into smaller parts. The practitioner will help them develop a toolkit of practical strategies and coping mechanisms so they can deal with difficult situations when they arise.
It is a talking therapy, based upon the understanding that their thoughts, feelings and physical sensations and actions are interconnected. It suggests negative thoughts and feelings can trap them in a negative cycle and helps them to identify ways to break that cycle.
This programme is longer than EWP – 12-16 weeks.
If CBT is assessed as not suitable for these pupils, they will be referred onto another higher-
level service within CAMHS, or discharged.
Higher level services include the Neuro-Development Team who work with pupils around ADHD/ASD/Tourette’s/OCD. (this will not be managed by the school – these pupils are now fully into the CAMHS system).
If discharged pupils may restart school counselling if required.
Our school refer pupils directly for support.
You can contact St Mark’s school link worker or PPL of your child if you feel your child might need support from MHST services.
The link worker at our school is Mr Cizmarik.