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 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 employed as classroom teachers and 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.

School leaders will be supported to implement the Program by a dedicated regional workforce.

MHWL will receive training from the Melbourne Graduate School of Education at the University of Melbourne, supported by Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI), and ongoing professional development through communities of practice. Further information is provided on the Resources tab.

Implementation rollout 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

Any 2022 Pilot schools will continue to participate in 2023 and beyond.

A dedicated regional workforce will 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
  • coordinating professional learning and support for MHWL.

Schools funding

Each government school will receive funding to employ a mental health and wellbeing leader (MHWL) at the Classroom Teacher 2–4 salary. Each school campus' FTE allocation will vary between 0.4 to 1.0 FTE, based on enrolments.

Funding includes MHWL salary for 12 months at the Classroom Teacher 2–4 salary, plus on-costs. MHWL FTE allocation will depend on the following primary school campus enrolment:

  • 1 to 199 campus enrols – 0.4 FTE
  • 200 to 499 campus enrols – 0.5 FTE
  • 500 to 699 campus enrols – 0.6 FTE
  • 700 to 849 campus enrols – 0.7 FTE
  • 850 to 949 campus enrols – 0.8 FTE
  • 950+ campus enrols – 1.0 FTE

Non-government schools will receive funding of 0.4FTE for a MHWL.

Schools receive their MHWL funding via the Student Resource Package 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.

Mental health and wellbeing leaders recruitment

  • Government schools must comply with standard school recruitment policies and are required 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 28 February 2023

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