Case study: The School Mental Health Specialist MA has helped Tom to create a positive Trust-wide cultural shift around mental health and wellbeing.

academy trust mental health


A large Multi Academy Trust with schools in the South-East and South-West of England were focused on providing an inclusive environment where all children felt safe to learn. They appointed Tom as a Trust Lead for Mental Health and Wellbeing to pioneer the way they support the mental health and wellbeing of all members of their community – children, staff, parents and carers. This role was both strategic and operational and relied on Tom’s knowledge and confidence as a specialist in the field to change the way mental health was approached across all schools within the Trust.


Master’s Degree – School Mental Health Specialist

Tom enrolled on the School Mental Health Specialist MA to gain the skills, knowledge and understanding to lead his Trust in their approach to mental health. He was aware that this was the only Master’s postgraduate qualification of its kind available in the UK and was keen to study evidence-based research and be taught by experts in the field of mental health in education, and to collaborate on the latest research and theories with other specialists worldwide. Two years into his Master’s degree, Tom reflects:

“From developing an understanding of appropriate interventions for young people to gaining the confidence on how to set about organisational change; the depth of learning from the course ensures that no stone is left unturned.”


The benefits of becoming a School Mental Health Specialist

Tom cites many ways in which his specialist knowledge has enabled him to push his schools forward and influence school-wide policy changes. He believes this has allowed him to:

  • Provide a strong foundation to create a positive Trust-wide cultural shift around mental health and wellbeing.
  • Engage key stakeholders in the process of change.
  • Appoint Mental Health and Wellbeing Governors or Trustees to champion new initiatives and help influence those opposed to change. 
  • Professionally challenge external agencies, such as CAMHS, to provide support for students.
  • Engage staff in newly-formed voluntary focus groups sharing feedback from individuals experiencing challenges. 
  • Facilitate connectedness to enable a shift in the overall culture of a school.
  • Confidently support the Mental Health Leads in each school who are responsible for the day-to-day management of mental health and advising on the best course of action to support a student or member of staff.
  • Promote a more open culture within the Trust and a positive help-seeking experience for young people.


What next?

Tom is joining Minds Ahead’s network of School Mental Health professionals to stay up-to-date with the latest evidence-based research, continue to evolve his learning and share best practice with other school mental health professionals. Through this network he has access to online and face-to-face events throughout the year to discuss the success and challenges he’s faced and to support other students by becoming a mentor. He’s also keen to stay in touch with his local MP to highlight what his schools are facing and suggest ways in which the local and central government can help.

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