Mental Health in Schools Working Group minutes: November 2019

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 4 November 2019.

Attendees and apologies


  • Association of Directors of Education (ADES)
  • Association of Headteachers and Deputes in Scotland (AHDS) 
  • Association of Scottish Principal Educational Psychologists (ASPEP)
  • Barnardos
  • Education Scotland
  • Fife Council
  • Learning Directorate, Scottish Government
  • Mental Health Directorate, Scottish Government
  • Mental Health Foundation 
  • Mental Health UK
  • National Association of Schoolmasters / Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) 
  • NHS Health Scotland
  • North Ayrshire Council
  • National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC)
  • Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH)
  • Scottish Borders Council
  • See Me
  • School Leaders Scotland (SLS)
  • Young person on work experience 


  • Edinburgh Council 
  • Scottish Borders Council

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

Members were welcomed to the meeting and introductions were made. Each member provided a brief summary of their experience/current work in delivering mental health support in schools.

It was explained that this is a large group with wide representation.  In addition, there is also a correspondence group which includes SG officials, colleagues from ES as well as others. SG officials will be meeting with them throughout the process to provide an update and ensure work is joined up.

The aims of the group were outlined:

  • to develop and deliver a new learning resource for all school staff to support children and young people’s mental wellbeing resource and training for primary/secondary school staff, as well as develop a package of practitioner resources to further strengthen the support for the mental wellbeing of children and young people in school
  • to identify a suite of good practice resources that are already being delivered in local authorities that can support effective learning and support nationally. The group will pull this together into a toolkit of support for schools
  • to produce the resources and make the training available by the end of 2020, if not sooner

The group agreed to the rules suggested:

  • the success of the group will depend upon mutual trust and respect and may, at times, require a degree of sensitivity around discussions in seeking to arrive at a consensus. 
  • open and frank discussion will be encouraged and supported with a general summary of key discussion and action points produced by the secretariat following meetings. 
  • in order to support this open environment, the use of social media during and after meetings is not permitted. It will be the role of the group to agree all communications and narrative in relation to their work.

A summary of each meeting and actions will be distributed to members. Once agreed, these will be published on the Scottish Government website.  

Terms of reference 

Members comments were sought on the Terms of Reference (TOR) circulated in advance of the meeting. Comments included:

  • being explicit about what the group wants to achieve
  • positive relationships
  • culture and ethos
  • early intervention and prevention
  • importance of evidence or research base
  • complexity of roles in schools and authorities
  • clarity around outcomes
  • looking at the work of other groups

Action 1:

  • SG officials to make suggested amendments to the ToR and invite UNISON onto the working group. Updated version will be circulated and added to the SG website

Update from Scottish Government 

SG delivered a presentation on mental health support in schools. 

Action 2:

  • SG to send link to CfE narrative to group members

SG explained he had updated the pathway document following the mental health workshop in September. He noted that having a glossary would be helpful in explaining the pathway to school staff. Comments were welcomed. Key points raised:

  • children and young people being at the centre is key
  • avoid using the term ‘first aid’
  • be specific about school staff
  • additional intervention section requires updating
  • good visual representation of what support is available
  • the pathway should be more of a continuum
  • be clear that continuum means both ways not just one way
  • all children and young people need universal support
  • need to be clear that universal support continues if you are accessing other intervention
  • the role of the teacher is to support young people’s learning
  • be consistent with language already out there
  • suggest levels of training: informed, knowledgeable, enhanced, specialist
  • parents, carers and peers should be included
  • where would third sector fit into wheel?
  • trauma informed work should be acknowledged somewhere.

Action 3:

  • Barnardo’s to share their continuum of support

SG explained the purpose and aims of the new the mental health resources document which had been developed. SG asked for any feedback on this resource over the next 2-3 weeks. 

Action 4:

  • Group members to provide feedback on the mental health resources document by 22 November 2019 if they wish. 

Discussion paper

SG spoke through the discussion paper and invited comments from the group. Comments raised: 

  • supporting young people’s learning is key
  • a self-evaluation tool would be welcomed
  • all staff need to know about the culture and ethos stuff. The next level would provide them with the knowledge and skills to support young people experiencing mental health difficulties
  • a nurturing environment for all schools is important
  • staff mental health is key
  • webinars work well and would be more interactive
  • agreed to focus on the universal support level
  • need to mention behaviour in the paper as this is a big form of communication
  • importance of role modelling and the role/remit of school leadership
  • awareness of the empowerment agenda within local authorities and schools
  • reminder that Health and wellbeing is the Responsibility for All
  • try to move the focus around mental health being negative (consider dropping wellbeing)


Key points/actions were summarised from the meeting:

  • develop a basic learning package with the option for additional modules
  • equip staff with different levels that they want as well as what SMT want
  • look into possible webinars – like the respectme format
  • innovative solutions are welcome
  • redraft Terms of Reference
  • review pathway

Comments made:

  • important that there is a level of engagement and choice for teachers
  • avoid using words like basic, first aid and training
  • focus on impact and evaluation

It was suggested that for future meetings, the group may break into smaller groups to focus on certain aspects of this work.  

Action 5:

  • SG to send calendar invites out to group for a meeting in January.


No other business was raised. The chair closed the meeting. 

Learning Directorate
November 2019 

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