Health Education England commission pilot workforce training in supporting children and young people’s emerging emotional health needs

We were delighted to announce in February that we will be working with the National Children’s Bureau and the Charlie Waller Trust on an innovative new pilot training programme commissioned by Health Education England. The training aims to reach thousands of staff, from family and youth workers to sports coaches and librarians - helping them spot the signs that a child or young person may require support with their mental health.

Though the long-term aim of this training is to reach 7.6 million members of the workforce across England, the initial phase will offer training to 10,000 staff across the pilot sites of Southampton, Portsmouth, and Norfolk. Target sectors will include education, early years and childcare, physical health, library services, sports clubs, justice and crime prevention, youth and social, family and community services.

Andrea King, our Clinical Director says:

‘We are hugely excited by this pilot because it has never before been done nationally – training for the frontline CYP workforce that places routine emotional health training for all staff and volunteers who come into contact with children and families, on an equal footing as safeguarding children, is ground-breaking.

We would never let a member of this workforce work with a child if they weren’t trained in safeguarding; and this pilot will allow us to give the same priority to emotional health – to support everyone to see the emotional health of children is our shared responsibility. What’s more, what makes this training pilot so unique is that it is currently being co-designed with children and young people, parents and carers and staff members before it is delivered over a 6-month period.”


Why were Norfolk, Southampton and Portsmouth chosen to receive this investment and be at the forefront of this innovative national work?

These sites were chosen because of their strategic partnership leadership and transformation of children’s mental health, having demonstrated a clear commitment to enabling the whole partnership and wider workforce to respond preventatively to the emotional health needs of children and families. Over 480 frontline staff and volunteers from Norfolk, Southampton and Portsmouth have helped us in the co-design of this training.

These areas also offer the opportunity to test the training, to ensure that the varying needs of rural isolated, urban, deprived and affluent, and other diverse characteristics and experiences of our communities is considered and responded to -in line with our shared commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion.

What will the training broadly entail?

Phase one of the training will mirror the existing statutory safeguarding framework that the children’s workforce already completes.  Staff will be trained in emotional health, which includes how to speak to children and young people about mental health concerns and what to say, offering support and signposting resources, and where to go for more specialist help. The training will include how to recognise signs of anxiety, low self-esteem and loss of social confidence, providing practical skills on how workers can help and when to ask for more specialist support. It will also think very carefully about experience of marginalisation and exclusion; and how to build upon the positives (the protective factors) in children and family’s lives.

Children, young people and parents/carers lived experience has helped us to shape the design of the training; and their voices and experiences will be included in the training itself. In particular, that means we focus on not only what staff and volunteers need to know about emotional health needs, but also on how our children and families experienced asking for help. How we talk to each other, is just as important as what we talk about.

When will the training pilot begin?

We will be piloting and evaluating the training in the April to September 23 period. Please keep checking this website for more updates.

  • Sara Tough, Executive Director of Children’s Services, Norfolk County Council and Chair of the Children and Young People Strategic Alliance said:

    “We’re delighted in Norfolk to be part of this ambitious and important training which will give everyone working with children the opportunity to play their part in building healthy and resilient communities. 

    We welcome locally that this will be a partnership and co-produced piece of work. Ensuring that the voices and experiences of children, young people and parents/carers combined with the experience of the multi-professional workforce can help us ensure that Norfolk’s children can flourish.” 

  • Councillor Suzy Horton, Cabinet Member for Children, Families and Education, and Deputy Leader of Portsmouth City Council, said:  

    "Ensuring children and young people have access to a range of early help in supporting their emotional wellbeing and mental health needs is one of the council's key priorities and something we take very seriously.   

    We're fortunate to have lots of early help support available for young people in Portsmouth such as the online Kooth service and Mental Health Support Teams in schools. Our plan with this training is to equip the children’s workforce to understand and spot the early signs of mental health which will ensure more young people get the support and help they need." 

  • Dr Debbie Chase, Director of Public Health at Southampton City Council said: 

    “We’re thrilled that Southampton has been nominated to participate in Health Education England’s wider workforce mental health training. 

    This training will play a vital part in bringing statutory, voluntary, and service user stakeholder groups together to ensure earlier identification and provision of mental health support for children, young people and their families. 

    By offering this city-wide training teachers, youth workers and mental health support workers will be equipped to support children and young people’s mental health needs at the earliest time point, helping to minimise the escalation of mental health needs and making every contact count.” 


For more information email

Our use of cookies

We use necessary cookies to make our site work. We’d also like to set optional analytics to help us improve it. We won’t set optional cookies unless you enable them. Using this tool will set a cookie on your device to remember your preferences.

For more detailed information about the cookies we use, see our Cookies page

Necessary cookies

Necessary cookies enable core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility. You may disable these by changing your browser settings, but this may affect how the website functions.

Analytics cookies

We’d like to set non-essential cookies, such as Google Analytics, to help us to improve our website by collecting and reporting information on how you use it. The cookies collect information in a way that does not directly identify anyone. For more information on how these cookies work, please see our Cookies page. If you are 16 or under, please ask a parent or carer for consent before accepting.