Current projects

Children and Young People’s Mental Health Trailblazer Programme
Children and Young People’s Mental Health Trailblazer Programme

In 2017, the Department of Health and Department for Education published the ‘Transforming Children and Young People’s Mental Health’ Green Paper. The Green Paper set out proposals for improving the services and support available to children and young people with mental health problems, with a particular focus on enhancing provision for those with low-moderate needs within school and college settings. The proposals had three main elements:

  1. Incentivising schools and colleges to identify a Designated Senior Lead (DSL) for Mental Health to oversee the approach to mental health and wellbeing.
  2. The creation of Mental Health Support Teams (MHSTs), providing specific extra capacity for early intervention and ongoing help, and supporting the promotion of good mental health and wellbeing in education settings.
  3. Trialling a four week waiting time for access to specialist NHS children and young people’s mental health services.

The proposals are being implemented as a large-scale pilot programme in four cumulative waves of trailblazer sites, with the aim of including 20-25% of children and young people in England by 2022-23.

The first wave involves 25 trailblazer sites and the creation of 59 MHSTs to support children and young people in more than a thousand education settings (including primary and secondary schools, special schools, colleges and other settings such as pupil referral units).

MHSTs will have three functions: i) delivering evidence-based interventions to children and young people with mild-moderate mental health needs; ii) working with education settings to support a ‘whole school approach’ to mental health and wellbeing; and iii) supporting coordination and joint working with other providers in the area. Areas will have flexibility to tailor their approach to local needs and circumstances and therefore some variation in service models and how they are implemented is expected.

It is planned that the first teams will be operational in January 2020.

A two-phase evaluation is being undertaken as a collaboration between PIRU and the Birmingham, RAND and Cambridge Evaluation (BRACE) Centre. The early evaluation, July 2019-February 2021, will focus, in particular, on the first wave of trailblazer areas and two of the programme’s main components: designated senior leads for mental health; and mental health support teams. This will be followed by a summative assessment of the programme’s longer-term outcomes and impacts, including an economic evaluation.

The study protocol may be accessed here>>

For further information, contact Nicholas Mays (; 020 7927 2222) or Jo Ellins (