Mental Health in Schools

The Mental Health Support Team in Schools (MHST) is a new NHS service commissioned to work with a number of schools across Devon and Torbay. We offer early intervention to help children and young people with their mental health and emotional wellbeing.

Who we are

We are part the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) working within the NHS. The MHST team consists of Education Mental Health Practitioners (EMHPs) working within schools and Child Wellbeing Practitioners (CWPs) working within the community. Both the EMHPs and CWPs are part of the MHST pathway delivering Early Intervention Mental Health support to children and young people.

What we do

We work with children and young people, aged 5-18, and their families who are experiencing mild to moderate common mental health difficulties (anxiety, low mood and behavioural difficulties etc). Our traffic light tool below details the types of symptoms we do/don’t work with.

This is an early intervention service that provides clear and evidenced based Low-Intensity Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (Li-CBT) interventions focused on guided self-help.

We additionally work collaboratively with schools to establish a ‘Whole School Approach’ to mental health & wellbeing, enabling mental health to be valued and become an intrinsic part of school culture. We offer schools:

  • We offer an audit and mapping service for schools to explore their current mental health and wellbeing strategy and set goals to further embed mental health within their school environment
  • A wide range of workshops on a variety of mental health and wellbeing topics which can be delivered to students, staff and parents, for example, Exam Stress, Understanding Mental Health, Bullying, Anxiety etc
  • Assemblies, stands at sports days/open evenings
  • Universal and targeted groups (some of our universal group offers will require referrals- such as for our Decider Skills intervention for students and our Timid to Tiger groups for parents)
  • ‘Time to Reflect’ which is a 1-1 or group consultation space for staff to explore mental health and wellbeing concerns about particular students in the school
  • Regular meetings with the schools Designated Mental Health Lead (DMHL) to develop the school’s mental health strategy
  • Develop cross county networking events for MHST engaged schools
  • Mental Health Ambassador (MHA) training to improve student participation within the school’s mental health policies.

i thrive model wheelThe MHST and CWP team will predominantly focus on the first two quadrants of the I-thrive model:

  • Getting Advice – Meeting with CYP/ Families and through Whole School Approach interventions offer advice and support in relation to emotional wellbeing and mental health (MHST)
  • Getting Help – offer evidence based, goal focussed brief interventions for CYP in regard to emotional wellbeing and mental health (MHST and CWP).

What is Low Intensity Li-CBT?

Low Intensity Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (Li-CBT) is a short term 6-8 session intervention supporting a young person to achieve a clearly identified goal.  The practitioner will work with the child, young person or/and their family to work towards this goal together by:

  • Learning about psychoeducation
  • Utilising CBT Techniques
  • Encouraging self-practice
  • Promoting guided self-help
  • Developing a toolkit of practical strategies to manage difficulties.

How does CBT work?

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a therapy that looks at how you think, how your body reacts and what you do when things are difficult. We notice that all these things are all related.

So by changing one of them we might be able to change them all. An example of this is:

Situation – what triggers the problem? This could be when you get something wrong

  • Thoughts – what goes through my head? This could be “I’m not good enough”
  • Emotions – how do I feel? This could be worthless or anxious
  • Behaviour – what do I do? This could be avoiding contact with others
  • Physical reactions – how does my body react? This could be feeling tired or a loss of appetite

How to access 1:1 or Group Support

If you are a Child/Young Person/Parent/Carer, please talk to the Designated/Senior Mental Health Lead in your school who can discuss your concerns with a member of our team at a regular mental health meeting held in your school. Alternatively, you can self-refer into our service if you attend a school working with the MHST service.

If you are a member of school staff and think a child/young person in your class needs support, please talk to your Designated Senior Mental Health Lead who can bring the young person for an anonymous discussion to the regular mental health meeting held in your school.

Please refer into CAMHS through your school, GP or via a self-referral. Your referral will then be screened and if appropriate, a Child Wellbeing Practitioner (CWP) will be in touch to offer LI-CBT.

Below we have included a list of schools that we are currently working with We’ll be adding to this list on a regular basis. The MHST team are currently commissioned to work with between 7000/8000 child and Young people at schools within the following areas:

Wave 1: Torbay 1 and Exeter 1 (Live from November 2020)

Wave 3: North (Live from November 2021)

Wave 5: Teignbridge and Torbay 2 (Live from November 2022)

Wave 7: Exeter 2 and East (Live from November 2023)

Wave 9: South Hams and Mid-Devon (Live from November 2024)

We encourage you to speak with a trusted adult in your child’s school or the schools Designated Mental Health Lead to access support.


  • St Peters Church of England Aided School
  • St James School
  • St Luke’s Church of England School
  • Isca Academy
  • West Exe School
  • Cranbrook Primary
  • Cranbrook Secondary
  • St Martin’s C of E Primary & Nursery SChool
  • Wynstream Primary School
  • Montgomery Primary School
  • Bowhill Primary School
  • Exwick Heights Primary School
  • Monkerton Community Primary School
  • St Gabriel’s C of E Primary School
  • St Leonard’s Church of England Primary School
  • The Topsham School
  • Trinity CofE VA Primary & Nursery School
  • Westclyst Community Primary School
  • Willowbrook Primary School
  • Woodwater Academy
  • Broadclyst Community Primary School
  • Clyst Vale Community College
  • Clyst Heath Nursery & Community Primary School
  • Countess Wear Community School

North Devon:

  • The Park Community School
  • Pilton Community College
  • The Ilfracombe Academy
  • The Lampard Community School
  • Petroc College
  • Ashleigh CofE Primary School
  • Sticklepath Community Primary Academy
  • Orchard Vale Community School
  • Shirwell Community Primary School
  • Bratton Fleming Community Primary School
  • Goodleigh C of E Primary
  • Holywell Church of England Primary School
  • Ilfracombe Infant & Nursery School
  • Ilfracombe CofE Junior School
  • Fremington Primary School



  • Dawlish College
  • South Dartmoor Community College
  • Newton Abbot College
  • Teign School
  • Coombeshead Academy
  • Haytor View Primary School & Nursery
  • Highweek Community Primary & Nursery School
  • Wolborough C of E Nursery and Primary School
  • Bradley Barton Primary School and Nursery
  • Westcliffe Primary Academy

East Devon:

  • Colyton Grammar School
  • Honiton Community College
  • Axe Valley Academy
  • The King’s School
  • Seaton Primary School
  • Axminster Community Primary Academy
  • All Saints C of E Primary School
  • Offwell Primary School
  • Exmouth Community College
  • Sidmouth College
  • Marpool Primary School


  • Paignton Academy
  • Brixham College
  • Torquay Boys Grammar School
  • Mayfield School Torbay (Specialist)
  • The Spires College
  • St Cuthbert Mayne School
  • Torquay Academy
  • South Devon College
  • Kings Ash Academy
  • Curledge Street Academy
  • All Saints Babbacombe CofE Primary School
  • Roselands Primary School
  • Oldway Primary School
  • Shiphay Learning Academy
  • Torre C of E Academy
  • Watcombe Primary School
  • St Marychurch Church of England Primary and Nursery School
  • Furzeham Primary and Nursery School
  • Sherwell Valley Primary School
  • Homelands Primary School

Referral Criteria

Our  referral criteria is based on a traffic light system which shows who do we see and/or what can we support with.

EMHPs/CWPs can work with individuals/groups to provide interventions in cases of…. EMHPs/CWPs MAY work with individuals/groups to provide interventions in cases of…
Discretion and close supervision required
EMHPs/CWPs CANNOT work with individuals/groups to provide interventions in cases of…
Significant levels of need. Complex conditions requiring ongoing referral
Behavioural difficulties – identification and support with CYP or brief parenting support. These include supporting regulation and understanding of irritability , anger, frustration. Behavioural difficulties, identification and support with CYP or brief parenting support, which may include Parent-Led interventions supporting moderate disruptive, confrontational, or controlling actions. Conduct disorder, severe anger presentations where there is complexity, risk to others and significant risk management.

Significant attachment difficulties or developmental trauma/PTSD.

Training parents and teachers to support interventions with children Training parents and teachers to support interventions with mild/moderate mental health needs.

Support staff to help co-facilitate a full parenting programme.

Training parents and teachers to support interventions with significant levels of co-morbidity, complexity or risk. Treatment of parental mental health/wellbeing.
Low mood. Irritability/ anger as a symptom of depression Promoting self-esteem, increasing motivation and engagement for children/young people. Chronic depression, severe depressive episodes.

Moderate to severe anger management.


Anxiety, worry management and avoidance, mild social anxiety or health anxiety. Anxiety disorder symptoms resulting in moderate impact on functioning or mild/moderate levels of risk. Chronic anxiety and severe anxious episodes resulting in severe impact on functioning or high levels of risk.
Emerging phobias and phobic responses displaying typical fight, flight, freeze adrenaline responses. Complex/specific phobias such as, agoraphobia, vomit or needle phobias. Phobias resulting in severe impact on engagement or participation.


Obsessive, intrusive or ritualistic thinking patterns that could be considered an emerging obsessive compulsive disorder Mild/moderate obsessive and compulsive symptoms, not exceeding 1 hour/day.

Young people displaying obsessive and ritualistic symptoms that may be in the context of neurodiversity.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder exceeding 1 hour/day or presenting with severe impact on functioning.
Panic-like symptoms or panic attacks. Young people displaying panic symptoms that may be in the context of neurodiversity or other mental health need. Chronic panic and anxiety episodes or high levels of risk.
Thoughts of self-injury, risk assessment.  Support with alternative coping strategies.  Young people with history of self-injury but not active Self-injury not requiring significant medical attention, e.g. first aid, safety planning and support with healthy coping alternatives.

Suicidal ideation without clear intentions or plans to harm self.

Severe and active self-injury, requiring hospital assessment or significant medical treatment. High risk of serious harm to self,  others or serious intent or planning to end life.
Lifestyle management e.g. sleep hygiene, healthy eating etc. Sleeping difficulties e.g. in the context of anxiety or other mental health difficulty. Longstanding, debilitating sleep patterns or physical sleep abnormalities.

Chronic fatigue syndrome, pain management or medically-unexplained symptoms.

Individual problem solving, improving self-esteem and motivation. Supporting mild to moderate emotional dysregulation, impacting on interpersonal relationships e.g. friendships. Systemic or relationship problems – counselling is best practice for interpersonal dynamics

Support videos

We have our own Mental Health Support Team videos and playlist on DPT’s YouTube Channel.

The first 5 videos give an overview of what we offer in MHST; through our work with schools offering reflective space to education staff, training young people to become mental health ambassadors, as well as sharing more about our 1:1 offer of Li-CBT and aiming to give children, young poeple and their families an idea of what to expect at their first session with us:

  1. Mental Health Support Team (MHST) – introduction to our service
  2. MHST Interventions – What is Li-CBT?
  3. MHST – What to expect from your first session
  4. Mental Health Ambassadors
  5. MHST – Reflective space

The next 12 videos aim to give an overview of the different interventions we offer for mild-moderate symptoms of mental health challenges:

  1. Worry Management
  2. Behavioural Experiments
  3. Behavioural Activation
  4. Cognitive Restructuring
  5. Decider Skills
  6. Coping Cat
  7. Exposure and Habituation
  8. Exposure and Response Prevention
  9. Parent Led CBT
  10. Timid to Tiger
  11. Parenting Behavioural Intervention
  12. Relapse Prevention