Two reports praise impact of mental health training

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:

Two reports into separate mental health training programmes for school staff have revealed a wide range of positive impacts.

Schools can address issues of mental health by training non-teaching staff to provide support, the RSA has recommended.

In a report published on Monday (October 8), the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) reports on the impact of providing mental health support training to both teaching and non-teaching staff in seven schools.

Evaluation of the programme, undertaken by the Anna Freud Centre, found that the training gave staff greater awareness and literacy around pupil mental health and more confidence in talking about and respond to problems.

It says that a whole-school approach could include non-teaching staff such as lunchtime assistants, “who can often spot what is going on outside the classroom”.

Tom Harrison, report co-author and researcher at the RSA, said: “Despite strains on capacity for staff in schools, we found clear benefits from having a ‘whole school’ approach to mental health training, including a much better culture of openness and breaking the taboo of mental ill-health – and not just for pupils.

“Likewise, non-teaching staff can often be the first to spot what’s going on outside the classroom and can benefit from training to spot signs of pupils’ mental ill-health and make appropriate referrals. And often pupils will feel more comfortable talking about their mental health to a non-teaching member of staff.”

Elsewhere, research published on Tuesday (October 9) found that Youth Mental Health First Aid training is having a positive impact in secondary schools.

Researchers from University College London evaluated the impact on more than 1,000 school staff and found a near three-fold increase in “confidence in knowledge, skills and awareness” to support a young person struggling with their mental health.

The research was commissioned to evaluate the first year of the Youth MHFA in Schools programme, funded by the Department of Health and Social Care, which aims to train a member of staff in every state secondary school in the country in mental health awareness by 2020.

Caroline Hounsell from Mental Health First Aid England – who writes in SecEd this week as part of our best practice articles marking World Mental Health Day (see pages 12 and 13), said: “Schools routinely provide physical first aid and reassurance if a child falls ill or is injured – and there’s no reason why this shouldn’t be the case if they are struggling with their mental health.

  • A whole-school approach to mental health, RSA, October 2018:
  • For details of the Youth MHFA training, visit To download the research, Youth MHFA in Schools, October 2018, see


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