What is Targeted Mental Health in Schools (TaMHS)?

The TaMHS approach aims to skill up school staff in the support of pupils with emerging mental health and emotional needs and provide access to early advice and consultation from a mental health professional.

Fully funded core training packages focused on raising mental health awareness and attachment are offered to schools via borough-based Primary Mental Health Workers (PMHW), with the opportunity for additional work, for example regular PMHW attendance at pastoral meetings.

TaMHS in Surrey

TaMHS was originally part of a three-year national initiative led by the Department for Children, Schools and Families and was only funded in Surrey for one year. Continued funding from Surrey County Council has enabled the pilot project which ran in Redhill, Reigate and Merstham to be rolled out across the county.

The core TaMHS offer is delivered by our Primary Mental Health Workers (PMHWs) and CAMHS Community Nurses in Surrey schools. The core offer includes consultation and liaison, training and attendance at meetings in schools to discuss how school staff can support the emotional and mental health needs of their pupils.

Surrey’s PMHWs are employed by Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and link into each of the boroughs in Surrey. CAMHS have appointed four practitioners to support the PMHWs in the delivery of the TaMHS approach.


Mental health awareness and attachment training helps to increase the confidence and skills of school staff who work with children and young people who may have emotional and mental health problems.

The aims of the training are to help school staff to:

  • Explore the concept of mental health
  • Learn about factors that contribute to mental health and mental ill health,(risk and resilience)
  • Explore the advantages and pitfalls of labels
  • Understand more about how the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service works
  • Find ways to promote support in school settings
  • Identify what helps children and young people with mental health needs.
  • Make appropriate referrals to CAMHS if required.

School staff can attend a three hour training session on core mental health awareness (this can also be delivered as two lots of one and a half hour sessions). This training helps to ensure a whole school approach and an understanding of how mental health awareness affects all areas of provision, along with the school ethos and climate for learning.

An additional one and a half hour training session focuses on attachment theory and enables schools to explore what lies beneath pupil behaviour.

TaMHS training success

Training delivered in over 250 Surrey schools by primary mental health workers (PMHW) and CAMHS community nurses, has consistently assisted staff in feeling increasingly competent across all areas of mental health awareness.

Following the mental health awareness training, schools have reported:

  • Improved understanding of the structure of CAMHS and the process involved in making referrals.
  • Improved knowledge of the role of members of staff within the CAMHS framework.
  • Improved awareness of environmental, familial and individual factors that could increase children’s ability to cope with emotional and mental health problems.

Read more about the success of MHA training, what the outcomes for children have been and see case studies and examples of strategies used in the classroom in the TaMHS evaluation report 2012-14 (PDF). The report was written by Dr Helen Pote, Clinical Director and Deputy Programme Director from the Department of Psychology, Royal Holloway University.

Primary mental health workers in schools

The TaMHS Approach has allowed Primary Mental Helath Workers (PMHWs) to be out in school communities more often, and regular consultation sessions with school staff now take place in a growing number of Surrey schools. School staff are also invited to attend TaMHS network meetings each term where they can meet PMHWs and other schools’ TaMHS leaders to network and discover up to date information on a range of mental health issues.

Schools can use the development of practices which support mental health as their Surrey Healthy Schools Silver and Gold Award project; several schools have already completed this process. Other Emotional Health and Wellbeing (EHWB) based projects which schools have undertaken as part of their Surrey Healthy Schools work include restorative approaches, social and emotional aspects of learning (SEAL) developments, raising the profile of pupil voice and anti-bullying practices; all have been able to make direct links with TaMHS because of the contributions they make to effective mental health and wellbeing.

How can schools get involved?

Schools are able to register their interest by emailing tamhs@sabp.nhs.uk, susan.skinner@babcockinternational.com or sarah.lyles@babcockinternational.com. You can also email them if you would like to attend the termly TaMHS network meetings coordinated by Babcock 4S.

Local Primary Mental Health Workers or CAMHS Community Nurses for Schools will then contact you to set up a meeting to discuss how to implement the TaMHS approach within your school.