health & social care
local government
primary & secondary education
voluntary sector

Child Mental Health: Raising Standards of Provision and Care in Schools

health & social care

local government

primary & secondary education

voluntary sector

08:45 - 16:10

Tuesday 8 December 2020

Central London

Coronavirus update: Inside Government has now postponed all its planned conferences, forums and training courses until June. We are in the process of scheduling new dates and will be in touch with all booked delegates. The health and wellbeing of our delegates, contributors and staff is at the forefront of our concern and we appreciate your support in taking this step and your patience in awaiting new dates. Please get in touch if you need any further information, at

Early Bird Discount Offer 10% off all advertised rates for a limited time only. Discount available to public / voluntary organisations only.

This Child Mental Health event will provide a unique and timely opportunity for participants to understand and effectively tackle the growing pressures on the education system to meet the rising mental health needs of pupils. Attendees will engage with leading national charities such as Young Minds and the Mental Health Foundation to examine key priorities to improve wellbeing in schools through early identification and effective interventions. Best practice case studies will also illustrate how whole-school and trauma-informed approaches can improve pupil outcomes, reduce stress-related illness, and tackle anxiety, depression and suicide among young children.


This Forum is specifically designed for the wider Education Sector. Typical job titles will include:

  • Headteachers
  • Chief Executives
  • Heads of Children’s Commissioning
  • Improvement Leads
  • Mental Health Clinical Leads
  • Directors of Children’s Services
  • Pastoral Leads
  • CAMHS Practitioners
  • Mental Health Improvement Officers
  • Youth Wellbeing Managers
  • Children’s Nurses
  • School Nurses

This Forum is also open to the Health, Voluntary and Local Government sectors to encourage debate and networking.

Key Speakers Confirmed:
  • Nick Harrop, Head of Media and Influencing, Young Minds
  • Jane Caro, Programme Lead, Families, Children and Young People, Mental Health Foundation
  • Julie Harmieson, Co-Director, Trauma Informed Schools
  • Lucinda Powell, Coach for School Mental Health Award, Carnegie School of Excellence for Mental Health in Schools, Leeds Beckett University
  • Ben Webster, Deputy Head – Pastoral and Organisational, London Academy of Excellence
  • Jo Hutchinson, Co-Author, Access to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, EPI
  • Maaike Palmier-Claus, Regional Development Manager, Papyrus
View the agenda and additional speakers


Registration, Refreshments and Networking


Chair's Welcome Address

Lucinda Powell, Coach for School Mental Health Award, Carnegie School of Excellence for Mental Health in Schools, Leeds Beckett University (CONFIRMED)


Morning Keynote: Understanding the Importance of Preventing Mental Ill-Health in Schools

  • Examining the reasons why anxiety, depression and self-harm is rising, in particular amongst vulnerable and at risk pupils, and looking at the effects of parental mental ill health
  • Analysing the link between school exclusions and pupil mental health highlighted in the 2019 Timpson Review, and discussing how to effectively address and encourage positive pupil behaviour, rather than shame them, to prevent instances of exclusions and poor mental wellbeing related to this
  • Discussing the ‘Make it Count’ campaign that includes an innovative school-based Peer Education Project which sees older pupils deliver mental health lessons to younger pupils, with the aim of creating more understanding and eradicating stigma
  • Sharing evidence-based practical takeaways for teachers and school leaders to learn how to prevent mental illness and support good mental health by equipping pupils with the skills they need to overcome challenges

Jane Caro, Programme Lead, Families, Children and Young People, Mental Health Foundation (CONFIRMED)


Special Keynote: Outlining Key Priorities to Promote Wellbeing and Resilience in Schools

  • Highlighting the important role of the teachers and SLT in minimising school-related stress and anxiety by focusing on preventing mental health problems and building resilience
  • Discussing the need to build resilience in staff by creating a school structure that offers support and introduces creative, reflective and effective strategies that adequately respond to pupil needs
  • Exploring solutions to high pupil referrals and reducing the burden on the NHS through the implementation of preventative methods that focus on early identification and intervention
  • Addressing the rise in pupil suicides and suicidal thoughts by prioritising mental health and wellbeing in the curriculum, with dedicated policies and whole-school approaches

Nick Harrop, Head of Media and Influencing, Young Minds (CONFIRMED)


Practical Insights Session: Achieving the Mental Health Award for Schools

This session will focus on understanding the importance of a whole-school approach to mental health, and will share practical insights and guidance on how to strengthen the provision of mental health support; elaborating on the Mental Health Award, which provides a framework for educational institutions to evidence policies and initiatives that work towards improving emotional health and well-being for both staff and pupils.

Key takeaways from this will include: 

  • Understand how to commit to making mental health a strategic priority
  • Utilise the developmental framework to evaluate current mental health practices, identify gaps, develop and strengthen these and work towards building an emotionally healthier school
  • Gain insights into how to develop a positive culture that promotes well-being

Lucinda Powell, Coach for School Mental Health Award, Carnegie School of Excellence for Mental Health in Schools, Leeds Beckett University (CONFIRMED)


Questions and Answers Session


Refreshments and Networking


Special Keynote: Developing School-Based Mental Health Interventions

  • Sharing current research into the effectiveness of school-based mental health interventions and innovative ways to maximise children’s emotional, cognitive and social development
  • Working with local health organisations to develop and evaluate school-based mental health services, through qualitative interviews with CAMHS staff, parents and young people and data analysis to assess whether access to service has been improved
  • Exploring ethical challenges of providing mental health services in schools, in particular when dealing with refugee children who suffer from PTSD
  • Sharing the mental health toolbox for schools, designed for any front-line worker to utilise in the school setting, even if they do not have a mental health background, and looking at how to implement this in schools

Mina Fazel, Associate Professor, Dept of Psychiatry, University of Oxford (invited)


Case Study: Improving Pupil Wellbeing and Mental Health in Schools through Trauma Informed Approaches

  • Understanding how emotional pain caused by adverse childhood experiences can transition into mental health issues and behavioural problems in schools
  • Outlining what a trauma informed approach to mental health means and how schools can implement and deliver evidence-based and trauma informed interventions to address mild to moderate mental health problems, such as Cognitive Behavioural interventions and stress management
  • Exploring the different types of trauma informed trainings available for schools which look at how to incorporate mental health in teaching and learning, and training key members of staff to support vulnerable children, as an alternative to CAMHS services
  • Outlining the available training and support designed for school staff to prevent them suffering from toxic stress or experiencing secondary trauma
  • Sharing best practice from schools that have successfully adopted the trauma informed approach and have delivered early interventions, and created an inclusive and supportive environment for all pupils

Julie Harmieson, Co-Director, Trauma Informed Schools (CONFIRMED)


Guidance Session: Building Suicide-Safer Schools

  • Developing a better understanding of current suicide trends in pupils and what causes emotional distress
  • Understanding how to recognise key signs of students that might be at risk of suicide and what staff can do to address the stigma in schools
  • Sharing key guidance for effective suicide prevention, intervention and postvention in schools specifically aimed at teachers
  • Exploring the ‘community model’ and the #SaveTheClass campaign which raise awareness and highlight the role of those in contact with pupils can play in helping prevent young suicide

Maaike Palmier-Claus, Regional Development Manager, Papyrus (CONFIRMED)


Questions and Answers Session


Lunch and Networking


Afternoon Keynote: Exploring the Links Between Mental Health and Pupil Outcomes

  • Examining the Access to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services in 2019 Report which highlights a large treatment gap in CAMHS, with 133,000 of referred children not accepted into treatment, including those who self-harmed or experienced abuse
  • Highlighting how a more ambitious programme to reduce the burden of mental illness is necessary to ensure mental health no longer remains a key barrier to social mobility because poor academic attainment
  • Underlining how long-term mental health leads to poor performance in school, as well as future substance abuse and criminal activity
  • Discussing how teachers’ lack of knowledge about some mental health conditions such as conduct disorder could be driving an increase in school exclusions, and looking at evidence-based training programmes for parents and carers can help support these children

Jo Hutchinson, Co-Author, Access to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, EPI (CONFIRMED)


Questions and Answers Session


Expert Interview: How Can We Encourage Young People in Schools to Stay Mentally Healthy?

  • What are the key drivers behind the rise of anxiety, academic stress and suicidal thoughts amongst pupils?
  • What is the Mental Health Charter and why is it necessary for ensuring imagery and language used in mental health reporting is sensible, educational and stigma-reducing?
  • What can educators do to recognise the symptoms of poor mental health and effectively support pupils in dealing with them?
  • Why is it important to encourage children and young people to develop a positive body image and keep their minds fit, and how can this be done in a school setting?
  • How can we improve access to health services in schools to be more inclusive for poor, BAME, LGBTQ+ and SEND pupils? And how can schools address this with internal processes and lack of funding?
  • How can we prioritise staff mental health to make it a fundamental aspect of the whole school approach?

Natasha Devon MBE, Body Image and Mental Health Campaigner (invited)


Questions and Answers Session


Refreshments and Networking


Case Study: Supporting Pupils by Taking a Whole School Approach to Mental Health

  • Identifying steps taken to address the high levels of anxiety and exam stress in pupils by developing a whole-school strategy to raise awareness of mental health and reduce stigma
  • Discussing how the relationship between students and staff was improved by ensuring every teacher knows their pupils, and by providing opportunities for pupils voice
  • Establishing a Mental Health Network run by pupils who are passionate about mental health, through which they hold assemblies to present on aspects of mental health, organise workshop on wellbeing, mindfulness and coping skills as well as termly events with external speakers
  • Facilitating peer-to-peer support from psychology students from a local university which act as wellbeing mentors for year 12 pupils, involving weekly wellbeing programmes for each pupil structured around strategies for positive wellbeing

Ben Webster, Deputy Head – Pastoral and Organisational, London Academy of Excellence (CONFIRMED)


Case Study: Prioritising and Investing in Counselling to Support Pupils’ Mental Health

  • Discussing the importance of having a qualified senior leadership member that can recognise the signs of mental illness as a result of trauma and abuse, offer counselling, or refer pupils if necessary
  • Outlining how the school has trained staff to deliver three types of therapies: counselling, creative therapies, and thrive programmes which help identify and understand children’s social and emotional needs
  • Highlighting the benefits of prioritising counselling provision for pupils so they are able to stay and participate in mainstream education; for staff so they can teach happier pupils; and for parents who are given strategies to help their children
  • Examining how the school has invested in this provision through extensive staff training and allocating dedicated staff time to delivering and organising the therapeutic provision in a gradual way

Karen Brown, Headteacher, Cubert School (invited)


Questions and Answers Session


Chair’s Summary and Close

*Programme Subject to Change

Mental health problems affect approximately 1 in 10 children and young people, according to the Mental Health Foundation. Indeed, 90% of school leaders have reported an increase in the number of students experiencing anxiety or stress over the last 5 years. Given that 50% of mental illnesses start by the age of 14, the role of schools in supporting the mental health of their pupils becomes extremely significant.

In 2017, the Government published the Green Paper on Transforming Children’s and Young People’s Mental Health Provision, aimed at enhancing earlier intervention and prevention and reducing waiting times for all children to four weeks by 2022-23. Building on this, the NHS Long Term plan pledged to expand services for under-18s with additional funding. Yet, while the national average waiting time to receive treatment has fallen by 11 days since 2015, an investigation by EPI found that children still waited an average of two months to begin treatment in 2019. Additionally, more than a quarter of young people referred to specialist mental health services in England were rejected, that is 133,000 young people who have self-harmed or experienced abuse with no adequate support by the NHS. This has a significant impact on schools, with teachers and senior leaders having to provide alternative support to rejected and struggling pupils.

In addition to this, according to Young Minds, an estimate of 3 children in every classroom has a diagnosable mental problem, and suicide, self-harm and depression have increased exponentially. However, following a NEU survey of 8,600 school leaders, teachers and support workers from across the UK, 59% reported having learning support assistants, but less than 50% had a school counsellor, and only 30% had been able to access external specialist support such as CAMHS. Furthermore, less than 30% had a school nurse and only 12% of schools had a mental health first aider. Moreover and shockingly, only 37% of respondents had mental health support training, but many believe this to be inadequate or ineffective.

It is becoming clear that we are facing a mental health crisis in our classrooms, partly due to cuts to external mental health support services. Nonetheless, educational institutions play a critical role in identifying mental health needs though tailored inventions and positive school cultures. It is therefore imperative that the wider education and health sectors come together to deliver outstanding wellbeing provision so all pupils can grow into happy, healthy and resilient adults.

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