Designated/Senior Mental Health Lead Job Description

We've put together this page to help you effectively recruit and embed a SHML or DMHL into your school or college.

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Senior/Designated Mental Health Lead Job

You may be aware the UK government have recommended that all schools in England appoint a Senior Mental Health Lead by 2025. They have backed this initiative by promising grant funding for schools and colleges to train Senior Mental Health Leads (which are also termed 'Designated Mental Health Leads').

The role of Senior/Designated Mental Health lead may be new to you or your school. You may be looking for ideas and examples of what the Designated or Senior Mental Health Lead role entails. We have put together this example of a job and person spec for a Senior Mental Health Lead (SMHL).

What's the difference between a Senior Mental Health Lead and a Designated Mental Health Lead?

Before you start looking into this job spec further, you may find here may be subtle differences between the role of Designated and Senior Mental Health Lead. This really does depending on your school or setting. For example the senior lead may have more or a strategic implantation and planning role and the designated lead may have a more hands-on coordination role. If you have a large school or college you may have staff in both roles working closely together. In a smaller school the same person may be responsible for strategy, planning and coordination.

There is no hard and fast rule about what is right or wrong. It is up to you to do what is best for your school or college. We have developed this job spec as a starting point to develop your own job and person spec to meet the needs of your school or college. We hope it saves you time so you can get on with the important job of appointing your SMHL.

Who this Example Senior Mental Health Lead Job Description is for

  • MAT CEOs
  • Academy CEOs
  • Head Teachers
  • School HR Managers
  • Deputy Head Teachers
  • Aspiring Senior Mental Health Leads

Who do you appoint to be the Senior Mental Health Lead?

In most schools the mental health lead will be a senior member of staff with additional duties and responsibilities to lead school mental health and wellbeing. They may be the head teacher, the deputy or assistant head teacher or another member of SLT, in some cases they may be a middle leader with additional responsibilities to work closely with SLT to develop the whole school approach to mental health and wellbeing.

Depending on the size of your school or college the SMHL may be a full-time or part-time leadership position or part of a wider range of leadership duties. However, the most effective application of a senior mental health lead role is to appoint a full time senior leader just to focus on mental health and wellbeing.

You may be considering giving the SMHL responsibility to your SENCO or behaviour lead, but it is important to note mental health and wellbeing needs although linked to learning or special educational needs, are different. Having different staff allocated to different roles such as behavior lead or SENCO and SMHL can bring greater clarity of the role and remit of mental health and wellbeing support in your school, which essentially is everyone's business. The SMHL is responsible for raising awareness and increasing capacity so mental health and wellbeing something the whole school community can contribute to.

Developing whole school mental health is ultimately an organisational change initiative. This can result in a lot or work and not something that can be done quickly so it its important that the person you appoint as a Senior Mental Health Lead can influence and lead change in your school or college setting.

Here is an example of what a Senior Mental Health Lead job and person spec could look like. Feel free to change and edit this to meet the needs of your school or college.

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Senior Mental Health Lead Job Description

Senior Mental Health Lead - Introduction to the Job

Taking a coordinated and evidence-informed approach to mental health and wellbeing in schools and colleges leads to improved pupil and student emotional health and wellbeing which can help readiness to learn.

As a school committed to the wellbeing of its staff and pupils; in response to the government’s latest recommendations to develop a whole school approach to mental health and wellbeing; we are recruiting a highly capable and optimistic designated senior lead for mental health.

This new member of staff will champion our commitment to delivering excellent outcomes in whole school mental health and wellbeing.

Senior Mental Health Lead - Core Responsibilities

  • Attend senior mental health lead training to acquire new knowledge and maintain an accurate understanding of the landscape of best practice in school mental health and wellbeing
  • Oversee the development of effective mental health and wellbeing provision in line with the government guidance for senior mental health leads
  • Identify gaps in our mental health and wellbeing strategy and source relevant external expertise in response to these gaps where no feasible internal solutions exist
  • Work closely with other members of school leadership team on the development and implementation of school's approach to mental health and wellbeing. Where necessary linking the approach to other policies and processes, for example safeguarding, behaviour, attendance and attainment
  • Develop and lead an effective early intervention and prevention strategy that enables all pupils to access support for their mental health and wellbeing
  • Coordinate the school’s provision for pupil’s mental health needs, including oversight of interventions where they are being delivered by staff
  • Oversee the mental health and wellbeing interventions that take place in school. In practice, this could mean; developing pathways to support for more vulnerable young people with mental health or other needs; coordinating the delivery of specialised interventions within a school or college and liaising with external agencies such as local CAMHS, Mental Health Support Teams or local community provision.
  • Evaluate the outcome of interventions on pupils’ wellbeing and attainment to understand what is working and make any necessary changes to ensure effective support is provided
  • Develop cross curricular approaches that support pupils through the promotion and protection of wellbeing
  • Develop training and teaching tools to aid in the delivery of our mental health and wellbeing objectives and responsibilities to staff members, ensuring a consistent school wide approach
  • Work collaboratively with a team of key staff members who can support the implementation of whole school mental health and wellbeing
  • Champion and always promote staff wellbeing. Including providing staff wellbeing training or support where necessary


Senior Mental Health Lead - Key Duties

  • Audit current mental health and wellbeing provision to determine and optimise performance of our programme of support for pupil mental health and wellbeing
  • Review the school’s PSHE and RSE curriculum to ensure it includes the awareness of developing positive mental health and emotional resilience
  • Support the development of strategies that cultivate pupil wellbeing in the core curriculum
  • Gather input from key stakeholders on what advice they would value and what their specific concerns may be
  • Maintain a publicly visible policy that sets out how the school supports pupils’ mental health and wellbeing
  • Develop and implement embedded processes that increase positive mental health and wellbeing
  • Assess staff mental health needs confidentially through staff surveys, feedback and by maintaining clear channels of communication
  • Create and implement a policy that sets out how the school promotes wellbeing for its staff, and address the areas of school culture that impact on staff wellbeing


Senior Mental Health Lead - Person Requirements

  • Previous experience in mental health support
  • Ability to motivate and lead a team
  • Leadership and management experience
  • Ability to lead change
  • Resilience to deal with setbacks and adapt as whole school approach evolves


Senior Mental Health Lead - Person Description

  • Highly motivated and positive individual that is passionate about positive mental health and wellbeing
  • Experience in leading school change programmes and initiatives
  • Empathetic individual who can work alongside others in a compassionate and non-judgemental manner
  • Committed to their own ongoing learning and development
  • Clear communicator who can work alongside stakeholders in many different contexts


We hope this helps you think about the best person for the role. When they are appointed, you can access funding to pay for them to be trained by a quality assured training provider. Find out more about our DfE assured SMHL funding.

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