The Mental Health Competency Framework

A self-assessment tool which supports schools to identify staff training needs and make informed decisions as part of a whole school approach to wellbeing.

It is estimated that one in eight 5 to 19 year olds have suffered from at least one diagnosable mental disorder, therefore it is likely that many more will struggle with their mental health and emotional wellbeing at some point during their school years.

We all have our role to play in supporting children and young people and schools play an important part in supporting young people that may be struggling with their mental health. It is vital that everyone working within a school has an understanding of what mental health is and has the confidence to recognise and respond to common issues.

What is the mental health competency framework?

Local Authority Public Health, YMCA Trinity Group, educational establishments and local NHS services have developed a competency based model of assessment to guide schools and colleges in identifying their training needs. The framework was created to simplify the complex picture of mental health training available. The aim is to ensure staff at all levels have the confidence to support children and young people by building core resilience skills, identifying emerging concerns at an early stage and signposting to appropriate care pathways or interventions where possible. There is no expectation that education staff will diagnose or treat mental health problems.

Click here to download the mental health competency framework.

How do I use the framework?

The framework can be used to understand where current levels of understanding of mental health are within different staffing groups, and to highlight areas for improvement. A starting point maybe to review the tool within a staff meeting or with a smaller group including senior leads (such as the mental health lead).

The framework consists of 3 stages allowing for different depths of knowledge and training for different roles within the school. It offers some considerations of how to identify what training is needed and provides a list of recommended competencies for each stage.

Section 1 is a universal whole school assessment, however, sections 2 and 3 are aimed at staff members who have greater responsibilities for supporting mental health. Therefore, those roles in Section 3 should also complete Sections 1 and 2; and those in Section 2, should also complete Section 1.

To make completion quick and easy the questions are, however, multiple choice. One section should take less than 5 minutes!

To save time and reduce administrative effort, A digital version of the Mental Health Competency Framework is available which can be saved onto each school’s Microsoft Forms account enabling easy circulation to staff and the responses to be automatically collated. This will help all schools to analyse needs efficiently and plan training programmes accordingly.

To gain access to the link to the digital survey as well as set of instructions on the next steps to take, please email:

healthyschools@healthyyou.org.uk or joannehowling@healthyyou.org.uk

What next?

Click here to download the Quality Assurance checklist for Schools. 

There are lots of local and national providers that can provide training, some of which are free to access.

In the event of deciding to purchase training, then the checklist can help to ensure that a quality service which is relevant to identified needs is delivered.