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Mental Health Support Teams in Schools (Thought-Full)

Mental Health Support Teams in Schools (MHST) is an important strand of the Government’s 2017 Green Paper ‘Transforming Children and Young People’s Mental Health Provision’. In West Sussex the service is called Thought-Full.

We have nine teams in West Sussex – Chichester, Bognor, Worthing, Mid-Sussex, Crawley 1, and Crawley 2. Recently we have expanded to include teams in Horsham, Arun and Steyning & East Coastal. Work in these areas will enable MHSTs to engage with children aged 5-18, those in mainstream and special units in schools.

For more information on all the schools we work with, please follow the link – MHST Schools | West Sussex Services for Schools.

There are three core functions to the MHST

  1. Delivering evidence based interventions in schools for mild to moderate mental health issues

MHST practitioners will deliver short-term (usually 4-10 sessions) goal-based interventions for children and young people. Interventions are based on either cognitive (managing difficult thoughts and the behaviours they lead to) or behavioural ideas (considering changes to behaviours that may keep the difficulty going e.g. avoidance or withdrawal). Requests for this type of support should be made by the senior mental health lead (SMHL) in one of the MHST schools. These low-intensity CBT interventions are generally suitable for mild to moderate difficulties in the following areas:

  • Sleep difficulties related to poor sleep routine, behavioural problems, anxiety-based night-time avoidance behaviours, or problematic thoughts or worries at night.
  • Poor eating patterns or diet affected by and/or affecting mood (not eating disorders).
  • Low mood, depression and low self-esteem.
  • Anxiety difficulties including phobias (e.g. animals, vomit, agoraphobia etc.), separation anxiety, social anxiety, school avoidance and excessive worry. This does not include Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
  • Common behavioural difficulties (ages 4-8 only).
  1. Supporting the senior mental health lead in each education setting to introduce or develop their whole school or college approach.

Some member of the team are dedicated to supporting our schools to develop a whole school approach to mental health and wellbeing working to a framework of 8 principles from the government document Promoting children and young people’s emotional health and wellbeing . The eight principles are:

  • Leadership and Management
  • The school ethos and environment
  • Curriculum, teaching and learning
  • Student voice
  • Staff development, health and wellbeing
  • Identifying need and monitoring impact
  • Working with parents / carers
  • Coordinated support

We have developed an audit tool designed to help and support schools with their whole school approach to emotional wellbeing and mental health.  It looks at each of the eight principles of a whole school approach and asks questions about each area. By completing the questions schools should be able to identify what’s working well with their whole school approach and any areas they would like to develop.

  1. 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.

Being an integrated service we have links with CAMHS, Early Help and Children’s Social Care and a number of other providers or mental health services. We offer advice and guidance around specific young people and the help that they may need as well as sign posting to other services.

We also consult with schools about the support that they need and respond with training opportunities and supervision groups.

For further information please see Services for Schools

Last updated 8 November 2023

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