The Anna Freud Centre has been pioneering better mental health care and support for children, young people and their families for over 65 years. We work with thousands of schools and colleges across the country. We translate research into practice by providing evidence-based, accessible information and resources that can be used to embed good mental health across the whole school community.

‘Leading a Mentally Healthy School’ is a major training initiative that combines the expertise of Anna Freud Centre tutors with a valuable, engaging community of practice, to support senior education leaders and designated mental health leads in building a sustainable, whole school approach.

The training is designed to be flexible and meet the needs of school staff. It can be delivered in cohorts of 15 delegates. Our specialised, reflective model of training ensures that each course is bespoke to participants.

This programme is being run in the first instance as a pilot, at the reduced rate of £750. 

Who is it for?

‘Leading a Mentally Healthy School’ is the right course for:

  • Newly designated Senior Mental Health Leads
  • Senior Mental Health Leads that have been in post over a longer period of time
  • Other senior leaders in school, particularly those with ownership over the mental health and wellbeing strategy in their setting

Entry requirements

To successfully apply for this course, you must have QTS and hold a senior position or be the Senior Designated Mental Health Lead for your school.

Please note that we can only accept one participant per school or college. 

What are the benefits to me and my school?

We will provide you with expert teaching from a range of education professionals. In addition, you will join a community of practice to help develop and strengthen your own school offer and provide a place for peer support and reflection. 

This will equip you with the necessary skills to successfully meet the core outcomes identified in the Green Paper.

By the end of this course, you will:

  • Feel confident in identifying at-risk children and young people and those exhibiting signs of mental ill health
  • Have increased knowledge of the mental health services in your local area, as well as an understanding of how to build links with local CYPMHS to better support the children and young people in your care
  • Be able to improve coordination of the mental health needs of children and young people within your school and oversight of the delivery of interventions
  • Have a better understanding of how to support staff in contact with children and young people with mental health needs
  • Develop an understanding of how to use outcome measures to monitor the effectiveness of intervention
  • Know effective support strategies for staff including the development of both a universal and a more targeted approach
  • Learn how to better engage parents and carers and introduce participation in your whole-school mental health and wellbeing strategy
What is the time committment?

You will be assigned to a cohort and placed on a 12-week training course of 6 modules that incorporates the following:

  • 1 hour 30 minute fortnightly live training webinar delivered by experienced education leaders
  • Independent self-guided study of 1 hour 30 minutes a fortnight where delegates have access to relevant case studies and research to underpin their practice
  • Participation in a community of practice to provide delegates in developing peer support networks to reflect and share good practice
  • Fortnightly access to a 1-hour office hour slot with course tutors

To maximise the benefits of the course, delegates are encouraged to complete all 7 modules.

What is the course structure?

The course is broken down into 7 modules:

  • Module 1:Understanding the role of a leader in creating an environment and culture which promotes wellbeing. (Live)
  • Module 2: Embedding mental health and wellbeing into an existing curriculum. (self-guided)
  • Module 3: Developing and supporting staff. (Live)
  • Module 4: Engaging the systems around the child or young person. (Live)
  • Module 5: Identifying and understanding need. (Live)
  • Module 6:Understanding the impact of mental health interventions. (Live)
  • Module 7: Creating a targeted approach for referral and intervention. (Live)

6 of these modules will be taught through a live seminar where you will join as a cohort and work collaboratively through the teaching material.

What other resources are available?

A community of practice channel will be in place for the duration of the course. We welcome discussion on the live sessions and the tasks, as well as any topics relating to the role.

Course tutors will be available to you, and all delegates, for an hour every fortnight. You will get the chance to submit questions you may have thought of whilst reflecting on previous modules. You may also use it as an opportunity to talk in a more in-depth way about a particular aspect of the course.

How much does it cost?

The total cost for 12 weeks of programme is £750 per delegate.

This price covers:

  • Live sessions with our experts
  • A wide range of evidence-based resources, including a handbook
  • Access to a community of practice comprised by other education colleagues
  • Access to Anna Freud Centre clinicians during office hours.

We understand that many schools are already implementing good practice in their setting in relation to mental health. Some practitioners may have good or outstanding practice in certain areas. If you are interested in some specific sessions instead, you may be able to participate in a reduced number of sessions, picking the modules that are relevant to you but still gain full access to the community of practice. Get in touch via email and we can put together a bespoke offer for your setting.

How do I sign up?

To join the course, please use the booking form.

If you have any questions, please email

One of the key recommendations outlined in the Government’s Green Paper is for every school to have a senior leader with strategic responsibility for mental health and wellbeing.

In the context of the pandemic, the demands on those with strategic oversight of mental health and wellbeing in schools have increased significantly. The return to school comes with its own set of unique challenges.

‘Leading a Mentally Healthy School’ will support senior education leaders and designated mental health leads during the transition back to education, and beyond. The course will equip senior education leaders with the necessary knowledge to embed a sustainable whole school approach. In addition, the course will help you identify the most appropriate provision to support children and young people in your setting.

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Rina is a Counselling Psychologist who has been working within the field of mental health since 2004. Rina has a diverse experience of working with children, adolescents and adults from a range of backgrounds. She has been instrumental to developing and delivering schools-based interventions through the AFNCCF’s Schools in Mind network.

Cait Cooper is the Deputy Director for Mental Health and Wellbeing in Schools at the Anna Freud Centre. Cait has vast teaching experience and a strong understanding of the current education landscape. At the Anna Freud Centre Cait holds strategic oversight of a large number of projects at the Centre including Green Paper initiatives, training packages, and the growing Schools in Mind network.

Monisha is the Training Manager for the Schools Team at the Anna Freud Centre. Monisha worked as a teacher for 30 years and was a member of a Senior Leadership team who specialised in Behaviour and Safeguarding. Monisha takes responsibility for managing a team of School Engagement Trainers as well as leading training across a number of projects including, government initiatives and specialist training packages.

During 2019/2020, the Anna Freud Centre successfully delivered Mental Health Awareness Training (MHAT), an evidence-based training programme for secondary school settings funded by the Department for Health and Social Care. An impressive 99% of participants recommended the training delivered by the Anna Freud Centre, with one describing it as: ‘An incredibly informative, strategy-led course that has allowed us to develop and shape the way we focus on supporting the mental health of our staff and students. Couldn’t recommend it highly enough’. Check out our other training at

  • 12 weeks; 6 sessions of live study (90 min); 6 sessions of self-study (90 min); 6 office hours with Anna Freud Centre tutors.

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