School operations

Mental Health Practitioners initiative


This policy outlines how schools plan for and implement the Mental Health Practitioners initiative, to provide students with access to support from qualified mental health practitioners.


  • The department introduced the Mental Health Practitioners (MHP) initiative in 2019 to expand in-school mental health and wellbeing supports to Victorian government schools. From Term 4 2021, the MHP initiative has been rolled out to all eligible schools across Victoria.
  • Under the MHP initiative, all government secondary schools and specialist schools with secondary-aged students are funded to employ a suitably qualified MHP (that is, psychologist, social worker, occupational therapist, mental health nurse or counsellor of a prescribed class).
  • MHPs work to enhance mental health promotion and prevention activities in the school by building the capability of teaching staff and school leadership to identify and respond to changes in student mental health and wellbeing.
  • MHPs provide time-limited direct counselling and other early intervention services for students experiencing mild to moderate mental health concerns.
  • MHPs coordinate supports for students with complex needs, including proactively working with other departmental Health Wellbeing and Inclusion Workforces (HWIWs) and external health professionals to engage further support as required.
  • Refer to the Guidance tab for more information and resources on the MHP initiative.


The Mental Health Practitioners (MHP) initiative, operating in both secondary schools and specialist school settings with secondary enrolments, was established to boost schools’ capacity to support the mental health and wellbeing of their students.

The initiative provides funding to schools to employ a suitably qualified school-based MHP, who must be a fully qualified:

  • nurse with a specialisation in mental health
  • occupational therapist
  • psychologist
  • social worker
  • counsellor of a prescribed class.

MHPs must also:

  • for qualified psychologist, occupational therapist and mental health nurse applicants, be fully registered with the Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Agency (AHPRA)
  • for qualified social work applicants, be eligible for registration with the Australian Association of Social Workers
  • for qualified counsellor applicants, have completed a Bachelor of Counselling or a Master of Counselling and be a practicing/fully qualified member of the Australian Counselling Association (ACA) or the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia (PACFA).

MHPs are employed at the Education Support (ES) classification Level 1 Range 4. All MHP positions must be advertised as ongoing unless employing an additional MHP or backfilling an MHP who is on leave. Refer to the specific qualification and registration requirements and guidance on recruitment: Recruiting a mental health practitioner.

MHPs report to the school principal (or their delegate) and work flexibly within the school’s existing wellbeing team across the 3 tiers of support by:

  • enhancing mental health promotion and prevention activities in the school by:
    • embedding mental health promotion and prevention strategies and programs
    • building the capability of teaching and school leadership staff to manage student health and wellbeing
    • contributing to whole school health and wellbeing plans
  • providing early intervention and supports for students with mild to moderate mental health needs, including counselling support for individual students and/or small groups
  • coordinating supports for students with complex needs by proactively working with regional staff and other health professionals where required.


Funding to employ an MHP is provided to schools through the Student Resource Package (SRP). Funding for secondary schools is under ‘Core Student Learning Allocation Funding’ in the SRP (Reference 119). Funding for specialist schools is under ‘Targeted Initiatives’ in the SRP (Reference 131).

Schools experiencing persistent recruitment challenges can apply to use MHP initiative funding in different ways to support student mental health. Mental health coordinators (MHCs) are available to support with this process.

Informed consent must be sought from a parent/carer (or the student if they are 18 years or older) before an MHP provides individual/small group intervention or counselling support to students. Schools must use the MHP consent form to obtain informed consent.

Where a relevant school staff member (such as a teacher, year level coordinator, MHP or principal who knows the student sufficiently well) considers the student to be a mature minor for the purpose of the decision to engage with an MHP, refer to the guidance chapter on Referral and consent processes, and the Mature Minors and Decision Making policy.

Schools must follow the MHP referral and consent process outlined in the guidance section when referring students to an MHP.


MHPs are supported in their roles by:

  • regional MHCs who:
    • act as a point of contact for schools
    • support recruitment of MHPs, including as a selection panel member
    • coordinate professional supports and professional learning for MHPs
    • lead progress monitoring and reporting activities
  • regional mental health engagement coordinators who:
    • provide expert advice on the intersection between disability and mental health
    • build MHP capability on how to effectively deliver supports to students with disability
    • support MHPs to raise awareness amongst school leadership teams of the need to tailor education and mental health support to student need through reasonable adjustment
    • identify barriers and enablers to mental health service use and other supports for students with disability.

Schools should contact their respective MHC or their regional mental health team.

In addition to their regional contacts, schools can direct general queries about the initiative to:

Department policy outlining how schools plan for and implement the Mental Health Practitioners initiative, to provide students with access to support from qualified mental health practitioners.

Reviewed 29 January 2024

Policy last updated

29 January 2024


  • Schools


There are multiple contacts for this topic. Refer to the contact section in the policy for details.

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