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Oldham’s sustainability model to Emotional Health and Mental Wellbeing: Using the Link Programme to successfully engage local authorities, schools and CCGs

Engaging in the Link Programme played a vital role in delivering change for the benefit of children and young people in our area, as we’ve engaged three cohorts representing over 60 schools and colleges.

“We focused on establishing successful joint working strategies.”

The programme enabled us to develop a shared view of strengths, limitations and capabilities and increased our knowledge and effective use of the resources within our community to support mental health of children and young people. Moreover, we focused on improving joint working between education and mental health colleagues.

We used the Link Programme to promote a whole school and college approach to emotional health and mental wellbeing and designed an Oldham framework for schools to follow and establish successful joint working strategies.

The mental health and wellbeing team, part of the Oldham Local Authority, is funded through the opportunity area. Without this investment, coupled with the whole school approach framework and the learning from the Link Programme, our mental health efforts would not have had such a large-scale impact.

“The framework helped give schools the confidence to have a wellbeing conversation.”

The framework has supported schools on how to identify needs early by using the graduated response, use measuring tools to make appropriate referrals to services and give schools the confidence to have a wellbeing conversation

We now have senior mental health leads in all schools and colleges in Oldham. The senior mental health lead has a strategic role, responsible for implementing a whole school/college approach to mental health across your setting rather than an individual member of staff who is the ‘go to person’ for mental health.

“We developed a network to communicate, share ideas and develop a common language towards mental health.”

We also developed a networking group which meet every half-term. The aim of this group is to network, communicate and act upon key topics, share knowledge, resources, ideas and to have a common language towards mental health and wellbeing.

The group will provide advice, recommendations, support and challenge each other and the mental wellbeing team. The group will be made up of teachers, health professionals, VCSE and the local authority, thus gaining a holistic approach to supporting the embedding of the framework where all key stakeholders will understand their role and responsibility in supporting our children and young people. Keeping children and young people’s mental health at the forefront of everyone’s mind – and having the opportunity to just stop, come together and talk

The Link Programme is coordinated by local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), and it brings together education and mental health services to meet the mental health needs of children and young people.

The Link Programme is led by the Centre, funded by the Department for Education and supported by NHS England. Over the next four years it will be rolled out to all schools and colleges in England. If you represent a CCG and want to get involved, let us know by filling this form or emailing

Natalie Williams is the Mental Wellbeing Co-ordinator for Education and Early Years at Oldham Council.