Speak to us +44 (0)1273 35 80 80
or Make a Booking
Confidence through competence
Course Browser

Senior Mental Health Leadership Certificate

Course Leader – Dr Richard Lewis

Senior Mental Health Leadership Certificate

Richard is the course leader on the Senior Mental Health Leadership Certificate course for those beginning their role as a school based Senior Mental Health Lead. He is an Educational Psychologist who has worked across all types of school provision including; mainstream, nursery, colleges, PRUs, and specialist provisions in order to meet the needs of children, families, and school professionals. Richard also has experience of working in a multi professional team of social workers, CAMHS professionals, voluntary and private sector professionals to deliver nationally recognised excellent support for families with adopted children and young people. He has also undertaken individual and family therapeutic work with children and families. He led a special interest group resulting in the implementation of more robust outcome measures. Richard values working collaboratively with school staff to analyse problems and move towards solutions at an individual, group and systems level.

Prior to working as an EP, Richard worked in school settings as a teacher and then as an Emotional Mental Health Coordinator, a role that is similar to the Senior Mental Health Lead role.

His previous qualifications and experience include a degree in Psychology and Counselling, School Centred Initial Teacher Training and teaching. He completed the Doctorate in Child, Community and Educational Psychology at the Tavistock and Portman Trust in 2013. As well as being course leader Richard also trains the next generation of Educational Psychologists at the renown centre of mental health excellence – the Tavistock and Portman Trust.

Why take this course?

If you are new to or aspiring to the Senior Mental Health Lead (SMHL) role, or if you’ve had little training, this DfE quality assured course will ensure you become confident, knowledgeable and ready to lead on Wellbeing and Mental Health in your setting. For those with experience or prior training in mental health leadership, click here for our Advanced Award.

At Real Training, our Educational Psychologists (EPs) have a long history of providing training (in-person and online) for education staff development. 

We provide a day and a half of interactive training with an EP and a small group of other SMHLs, to provide you with the knowledge, skills and tools to take up the SMHL role. Collaborate with this network of SMHLs in education settings across the country, share resources and plans, so that you develop your expertise with those in similar settings, rather than being grouped by geography. 

Be guided in-person by an EP, and engage with the online course for further support, so that you become an effective and confident SMHL, solving problems like; how to develop a shared understanding among key stakeholders, taking your setting with you on the journey to make it mentally healthy. 

You will be supported to develop a Plan for Change that is reviewed by an EP, enabling the first steps to be taken to implement whole-school approaches to improve mental health support in your school or college community.

During the course, SMHLs will be supported to understand the context, complexity and interactional nature of SEMH, and to apply theory to practice. You will:

  • Draw on a range of leadership styles and skills to hold the SMHL role with increased confidence and success.
  • Develop a positive values-based approach, openness and normalisation of mental health.
  • Map your setting’s risk and resiliency factors, so as to increase school belonging and foster critical staff/pupil relationships as part of the change plan.
  • Set up systems to engage stakeholder groups, including enabling student and carer voice.
  • Develop a greater whole school understanding of discrimination and ways to promote positive staff and pupil mental health.

How will your setting benefit?

The benefits to your educational setting include:

  • Development of a positive values-based approach, including around staff wellbeing.
  • Provision of a range of tools and strategies to support mental health and wellbeing, collated for staff to use in their daily work. 
  • Improved wellbeing for all students, including those with identified needs.
  • Development of staff leadership skills, to support a positive whole school ethos.
  • Improved stakeholder engagement, including with parents, CYP, and external services.
  • Development of a coherent working package of effective policies.
  • Effective use of data to plan intervention and monitor change effectively.

When does the course start?

Live courses will begin in January 2022. Please book now choosing either the face to face in Greenwich or Campus Live (online live training) options. Dates and times stated are GMT.


January 2022 

  • Campus Live (online live training) – 18 January (9:00 to 17:00) followed by 29 March (9:00 to 13:00) SOLD OUT
  • In-person event in Greenwich – 24 January (9:00 to 17:00) followed by 28 March (9:00 to 13:00) SOLD OUT
  • Campus Live (online live training) – 25 January (9:00 to 17:00) followed by 30 March (9:00 to 13:00)SOLD OUT

February 2022

  • Campus Live (online live training) – 8 February (9:00 to 17:00) followed by 26 April (9:00 to 13:00).
  • Campus Live (online live training) – 22 February (9:00 to 17:00) followed by 3 May (9:00 to 13:00).

March 2022

  • NEW – Campus Live (online live training) – 1 March (9:00 to 17:00) followed by 10 May (9:00 to 13:00)
  • Campus Live (online live training) – 15 March (9:00 to 17:00) followed by 24 May (9:00 to 13:00).

There is school-based work to complete between the events and tutor-supported work to complete your ‘Plan for Change’. You will be able to submit this plan for assessment a few weeks following the second date.

Please note: as it takes time to process your application and payment, we strongly recommend registering as soon as possible, so that you don’t miss the next course. 

Course content

Leadership and impact monitoring

  • Models of leadership, and effective ways to engage key stakeholders, will be shared by SMHLs in similar settings, so SMHLs can consider how best to identify areas to target in their systems. 
  • Activities and resources, supported by research, are provided so that SMHLs can undertake practical activities in their settings to evaluate SEMH provision and identify ways to move forward and overcome hurdles.
  • Knowledge of the key influences on poor mental health is attained so that key messages and actions for change can be developed.

Targeted support and appropriate referrals

  • Hear from practising Educational Psychologists, with specialist knowledge of mental health and wellbeing, regarding how pathways can be navigated and appropriate referrals made. 
  • SMHLs will share their experiences of referral pathways and processes, including systems around provision offered within their settings, and links to external partners such as MHSTs and CYPMHS.
  • Engage with an activity that links the processes in local networks of support.
  • The embedding and sustaining of support and referral systems will be facilitated through practical activities with managers and other key roles in the setting such as SENCo, DSL.

Staff and setting ethos development

  • Consideration of the emotional climate of your setting will be scaffolded through case study discussion, so as to consider practice in real settings, mapped to evidence-based wellbeing frameworks.
  • Specific adaptations around staff care will be discussed and planned for.  
  • Coaching support by EPs helps SMHLs identify and implement positive mental health and wellbeing as part of the curriculum and specific to PSHE (ideas shared with the wider SMHL network)
  • Signposting to relevant documentation will be provided, alongside access to specific academic journals, for staff individual consumption and discussion. 

Student and families engagement

  • Strategies and approaches for engaging with students with different communication preferences/needs are explored with EPs, who specialise in this area 
  • Case studies will be utilised to explore the ingredients of effective partnership with families, alongside coaching input around how to improve stakeholder engagement within delegates’ individual settings.
  • Reflection activities on equality, diversity and inclusion will enable delegates to consider links to mental health and to develop positive strategies for change 
  • Activities to engage with students are completed and reflected upon by delegates, in order to encourage authentic student voice

How is the course delivered?

There are 11 hours of training split over two days and in addition around 4 hours of coaching and tutoring available between you and your trainer, across the duration of the Senior Mental Health Leadership Certificate course. 

You have the choice of two delivery methods:

  1. A blend of face-to-face sessions and online, self-paced learning. The online material is delivered through our proprietary online learning platform, Campus Online, at your own pace. The trainer facilitated, interactive, in-person sessions are with groups of delegates collaborating on activities that are designed to increase knowledge and confidence, e.g. through case studies and scenarios.

Initially dates for these courses will be set for delivery in Greenwich, London. We are planning for more venues to be made available across England. 

  1. A blend of online real-time sessions and online, self-paced learning. The online material is delivered through our proprietary online learning platform, Campus Online, at your own pace. The trainer facilitated sessions are delivered through Campus Live, where groups of delegates collaborate on activities designed to increase knowledge and confidence, e.g. through case studies and scenarios.

The first course will be delivered in January (for exact dates, please see above, under “When does the course start?”). Further dates throughout the year will be made available depending on demand.

How do I achieve the Certificate?

To achieve the certificate you need to attend and engage with the 11 hours of interactive training. You also need to successfully complete a ‘Plan for Change’. You will be able to contact your tutor as the plan is developed before submitting it for feedback. We encourage you to submit your plan in time for you to receive individual feedback to guide improvements to your plan. You will also be able to discuss the development of your plans with your peers online and your local network. The ‘Plan for Change’ will include activities to improve mental health support and well being in your setting and ways to embed and sustain improvements. Your tutor trainer will sign off your ‘Plan for Change’.

After completing the Certificate course you will benefit from 12 months further access to online support forums as you implement your ‘Plan for Change’.

Trainers/Tutor Coaches

Dr Richard Lewis (Course leader, Real Group Senior Educational Psychologist, Academic and Professional Lead, and Trainer/Tutor)

Jalak Patel (Real Group Senior Educational Psychologist and Trainer /Tutor)

Dr Sue Sheppard (Real Group Senior Educational Psychologist and Trainer/Tutor)

Dr Mark Turner (Real Group Co-founder, Managing Director, Educational Psychologist and Trainer / Tutor)

Dr Siobhan Mellor (Real Group Director, Educational Psychologist and Trainer / Tutor) 

Dr Joanna Wood (Real Group Senior Educational Psychologist and Trainer/Tutor)

Dr Hannah Fairall (Real Group Educational Psychologist and Trainer/Tutor)

Dr Brigid O’Leary (Educational Psychologist and Tutor)

Dr Anne-Marie Baverstock (Educational Psychologist)

Are you eligible?

This Senior Mental Health Leadership Certificate is designed for new-to-role, or aspiring, Senior Mental Health Leaders, who have not previously completed senior mental health leadership training. 

You will need to be working in a UK or international education setting, embedding learning through practice, so you will need the support of the Headteacher/Head of Centre.

This course is relevant to educators in all phases of education, from primary to further education colleges, special and alternative provision schools.

To check your setting’s eligibility for the grant funding, please visit this site, and click the link to the government funding terms and conditions.

How much does it cost?

This course costs £995 plus VAT. Schools are able to reclaim the VAT paid.

Grant funding may be available if you work in a school or college in England. The latest information about this grant funding is available at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/senior-mental-health-lead-training. We also have our own guide to applying for funding here.

We can confirm that this course has achieved DfE approval and will be eligible for grant funding according to the process outlined by the DfE. We understand that the DfE wishes you to book direct with us to secure your place and then reclaim the funding. The DfE have provided the following course reference numbers which should be quoted as part of the grant application.

Senior Mental Health Leadership Certificate (Face to face – in person)
Reference number: SMHL037
RE: Senior Mental Health Leadership Certificate (Face to face – online)
Reference number: SMHL038

The grant funding amount totals up to £1,200 per setting. The latest DfE information will be available at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/senior-mental-health-lead-training. In order to apply for the funding, visit this page and following the links to the online form.

You can still book a place on the course if you work in an international school or setting which is not eligible for grant funding assuming you meet the eligibility criteria and you or your school funds the cost of the course.

How long does it take to complete the course?

The duration of the Senior Mental Health Leadership Certificate course is four to six months.

Many Senior Mental Health Lead courses offered by other providers are short courses. At Real Training, we believe that learning should be practice-led and completed over a period of time to allow us to support you whilst you complete your ‘Plan for Change’. This also helps ensure long-term retention and maximum impact. Therefore you can take up to 6 months to complete our Senior Mental Health Leadership Certificate, and you will be making a difference in your setting straight away. We are happy to confirm that the DfE has approved this course duration.

We do understand, however, that circumstances can arise that could prevent the course from being completed in this time period. If this is the case, a single extension can be arranged in conjunction with the admin team and your tutor.

Speak to us

01273 35 80 80

or Make a booking

Complete the online booking form to
enrol on one of our training courses