Mental Health in Primary Schools Program

The Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health SystemExternal Link highlighted that primary schools provide opportunities to identify children with mental health and wellbeing challenges, who can then be referred for treatment, care, and support. The department has expanded the Mental Health in Primary Schools (MHiPS) Program in recognition of the important role schools play in supporting the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people.

The Mental Health in Primary Schools Program provides funding to employ a mental health and wellbeing leader (MHWL) in every government and low-fee non-government primary school in Victoria. The program will be implemented across Victoria over a staged rollout between 2023 to 2026.

Mental health and wellbeing leaders

MHWLs are qualified teachers who work across the school to implement a whole-school approach to mental health and wellbeing for students, staff, and families based on a broad knowledge of the needs of the school community. This includes:

  • building the capacity of school staff, in particular classroom teachers, to identify and support students with mental health concerns in the classroom
  • supporting the school to create clear referral pathways internally (within school) and externally (to community services) for students identified as requiring further assessment and intervention
  • coordinating targeted mental health support for students by working with regional staff, school wellbeing and leadership teams, teachers, parents/carers, and external agencies.

MHWLs receive training from the Faculty of Education at the University of Melbourne, and professional development through communities of practice. Further information is provided on the Resources tab.

School leaders will be supported to implement the program by dedicated regional mental health branches.

Implementation schedule

The Mental Health in Primary Schools Program will be expanded to all government primary schools and low-fee non-government primary schools based on their areas between 2022 and 2026.

The rollout schedule is:

  • 2023: Barwon, Brimbank Melton, Goulburn, Hume Merri-bek, Outer Gippsland
  • 2024: Mallee, Ovens Murray, Southern Melbourne, Western Melbourne
  • 2025: Inner Gippsland; Loddon Campaspe, Outer East Melbourne, Wimmera South West
  • 2026: Bayside Peninsula, Central Highlands, Inner East Melbourne, North East Melbourne

From 2023, all MHiPS Pilot schools will participate in the statewide MHiPS Program. The pilot has now concluded.

The dedicated regional mental health branches support school leaders to implement the program by:

  • providing advice about recruiting and onboarding a MHWL
  • creating links with schools across their area
  • identifying school needs, training, and support requirements.

Schools funding

Each government school campus will receive funding to employ a mental health and wellbeing leader (MHWL) at the Classroom Teacher 2–4 salary, plus on-costs.

Each school campus' FTE allocation will vary between 0.5 to 1.0 FTE, based on primary enrolments:

  • 1 to 299 campus enrolments – 0.5 FTE
  • 300 to 599 campus enrolments – 0.6 FTE
  • 600 to 749 campus enrolments – 0.7 FTE
  • 750 to 849 campus enrolments – 0.8 FTE
  • 850 to 949 campus enrolments – 0.9 FTE
  • 950+ campus enrolments – 1.0 FTE

Non-government schools receive funding of 0.4 FTE at the Classroom Teacher 2-4 salary to employ an MHWL.

Schools receive their MHWL funding via the Student Resource Package (SRP) at the start of Term 1 and are expected to recruit their MHWL for Term 1.

The MHWL will be funded to coordinate and promote whole school approaches to mental health and wellbeing in their school. They will not be required to have a teaching role alongside their role as the MHWL and must be provided dedicated time out of the classroom in line with the allocated FTE to implement the Mental Health in Primary Schools model.

Schools that participated in the Primary Welfare Officer initiative

The Primary Welfare Officer (PWO) initiative is transitioning to the MHiPS program from 2023.

Schools transitioning from the PWO initiative to the MHiPS program, in line with the above area rollout schedule, will receive funding under the MHiPS funding line in the SRP.

Former PWO schools will receive the higher of either their PWO funding in the year prior to transitioning to MHiPS or their MHiPS funding as calculated above.

Schools that participated in the Mental Health in Primary Schools Pilot

The MHiPS Pilot has now concluded. Former government pilot schools will transition from their pilot funding allocation to the MHiPS statewide expansion funding model, in line with other schools participating in the program.

For more information on the funding allocation model see the MHiPS SRP guide.

For specific information about your school’s funding allocation contact

Mental health and wellbeing leaders recruitment

  • Government schools must comply with standard school recruitment policies and are expected to advertise for the MHWL position via Recruitment OnlineExternal Link .
  • Catholic schools are required to recruit in line with their regular CECV Diocesan processes. Please liaise with your Diocesan Employment Relations Unit regarding the appointment of staff.
  • Refer to the Resources tab for detailed information and resources on the Mental Health in Primary Schools Program, including detailed questions and answers, fact sheets and an example position descriptions template.
includes information on the Mental Health in Primary Schools Program

Reviewed 20 September 2023

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