Mental Health Team Support Clinic

What are mental health support teams in schools?

Schools play an important role in the lives of young people. Most young people spend much of their time at school and attend the same setting over several years. For young people facing adversities at home, schools can play an especially important role as places of safety, and consistency. This has resulted in the implementation of school-based mental health support teams (MHSTs), which support children and young people with mild to moderate mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression.

What is the Mental Health Support Team Clinic?

The main aim of the clinic is to address the need for research to be undertaken to establish the effectiveness of this new provision (MHSTs) and whether the low intensity interventions, and delivery format, are appropriate.

The MHST Research Clinic is co-led by Clare Dixon (Clinical Lead for West Sussex Mental Health Support Teams in Schools, Sussex Partnership and West Sussex County Council), Faith Orchard (Lecturer in Psychology, University of Sussex) and Mary John (Clinical Research Fellow and Head of Department of Psychological Intervention, Sussex Partnership and the University of Surrey).

There will be many learning opportunities for the Trust, clinic staff, clinical psychology trainees and other researchers, to undertake novel research as well as developing new collaborations. These partnerships will enable us to attract research funding to sustain and develop the clinic. 

  • Deliver evidence-based interventions for children and young people with mild-to-moderate mental health problems
  • Support the senior mental health lead in each education setting to introduce or develop their whole school/college approach to mental health
  • Give timely advice to school and college staff, and liaise with external specialist services, to help children and young people to get the right support and stay in education.

As part of Core function 1, MHST practitioners will deliver short-term (4-10 sessions) interventions for children and young people experiencing mild to moderate difficulties. MHST schools can request support here.

Our interventions are based on cognitive therapy (managing difficult thoughts and the behaviours they lead to) or behavioural ideas (considering changes to behaviours that may keep the difficulty going e.g. avoidance or withdrawal) and can be delivered 1:1 or in groups. These interventions rely on a collaborative, goals-based approach. It is therefore important that the young person acknowledges they have a difficulty, and that they are motivated to talk about, and work on this.

The MHST can support children and young people with: 

  • Sleep difficulties related to poor sleep routine, behavioural problems, anxiety-based night-time avoidance behaviours, or problematic thoughts or worries at night
  • Poor eating patterns or diet affected by and/or affecting mood (Not eating disorders)
  • Low mood, depression and low self-esteem
  • Anxiety difficulties including phobias (e.g. animals, vomit, agoraphobia etc.), separation anxiety, social anxiety, school avoidance and excessive worry 
  • Common behavioural difficulties (ages 4-8 only)

The clinic is available to children and young people.

The clinic is not a referral-based service, as the main purpose of the research clinic is to evaluate an already existing service. If you would like to provide input and ideas as part of the development of our research or help out with any of our ongoing research, please contact our clinic research assistant at or

Offering support to young people who hear voices within a school setting

Researchers from Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust with Universities of Lancaster and Sussex and senior members of Thought-full, are planning to run and evaluate a coping intervention for young people who are distressed by hearing voices which will be offered when and where people need it - in secondary schools, rather than waiting for an appointment within a Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) setting. The ECHOES study, which opened in November 2023, offers support for young people who are distressed by hearing voices and will conduct a preliminary evaluation of a psychological intervention package for delivery through Mental Health Support Teams within secondary schools.

This brief coping intervention for young people and a workshop for the family members who support these young people are currently offered within a (CAMHS) setting, and have been found to be helpful. However, waiting lists can be long and children don't always get help as soon as they need it. When a young person is distressed by hearing voices, we want them to receive some help as soon as possible, in a school setting. We plan to work with students, parents and school staff adapt our intervention in secondary schools to be delivered by the Thought-full service in West Sussex to deliver this study, known as ECHOES. We'll talk to the participants about the therapy and this data will advise us on how helpful the intervention has been.

For more information about ECHOES, click here 

'Transforming children and young people's mental health provision'. For more information on this initiative, you can find the paper here.

Address: Mental Health Support Team Research Clinic, Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, Research and Development, Sussex Education Centre, Mill View Hospital site, Nevill Avenue, Hove, BN3 7HZ