Mental Health in Primary Schools – increase mental health and wellbeing leader time fraction

This program provides government and low fee non-government Victorian primary schools with funding to employ a mental heath and wellbeing leader (MHWL).

  • Tier: 
    • Tier 1: Positive mental health promotion 
    • Tier 2: Early intervention and cohort specific
  • Type of intervention: DET funded resources
  • Strength of evidence: Registered professional
  • Geographic location: State-wide

Program description

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.

MHWLs are classroom teachers who work across the school to implement a whole-school approach to mental health and wellbeing.

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
  • advocating for student voice and agency in their wellbeing and mental health needs.

As part of the phased state-wide roll out, mental health and wellbeing leaders receive evidence-based training in mental health literacy, supporting student need, and building school capacity, and receive ongoing professional development through Communities of Practice. The training program is developed and facilitated by the University of Melbourne.

Intended outcomes

  • Increased knowledge of mental health, social-emotional wellbeing, and psychological skills across students and school community
  • Improved referral pathways for students requiring assessment
  • Implementation of effective mental health strategies in-classroom
  • Improved capacity of MHWLs and wider school staff to implement whole school mental health promotion strategies

Program details

Target audience
  • Primary school students 
  • Capacity building for primary school staff
Program providerDepartment of Education
Delivery modeFace-to-face

Implementation considerations

  • Target population: Primary school students, their teachers and their parents.
  • Rollout pattern: The rollout schedule for MHiPS 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.
  • Program adaptability: The role of the MHWL and priorities for the whole school approach can be adapted for the specific wellbeing needs of the school cohort, classroom, or small student group.
  • Staffing: The mental health and wellbeing leader role is intended to be filled by a qualified teacher. Mental health and wellbeing leaders should use their intimate knowledge of the in-classroom experiences as a teacher and understanding of the school context to assist teachers with input into the development, implementation and evaluation of processes, curriculum content and teaching practices to support and promote mental health and wellbeing.
  • Training requirements: MHWL will receive evidence-based training from the Melbourne Graduate School of Education at the University of Melbourne, and ongoing professional development through communities of practice.


Item cost


Detailed cost

Each government school will receive funding to employ a mental health and wellbeing leader 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 primary school campus enrolments.

Primary schools are able to use part or all of their School Mental Health Fund allocation to increase the time fraction of their MHWL once the Mental Health in Primary Schools program has rolled out in their area. Schools should note funding allocations may differ each year when recruiting or amending staff employment conditions. Schools are encouraged to discuss this with their Regional Mental Health team.