Specialist Mental Health Mentoring

Updated on the 6th of June 2017

Welcome to the certification and accreditation scheme for DSA specialist mental health mentoring (DSA MHM) which has been developed by a consortium of UMO, Royal Holloway and UMHAN.

The DSA MHM consortium provides two certified routes, Route 1 and Route 2, which both lead to specialist mental health mentor accreditation on the DSA QAG register via UMHAN membership. The route which is suitable depends on an applicants' experience and qualifications.

Route 1 has been developed to allow practitioners who are already in the sector and practicing as mental health mentors, but who do not qualify under any of the other criteria approved by BIS, to gain accreditation in order to register and work as DSA-funded specialist mentors for students with mental health conditions.

Route 2 is a rigorous course aimed at those mentors who are working in the role, but do not currently meet the quality standard framework and therefore need to ‘top up’ and demonstrate their competence so that they can be accredited and join the DSA QAG NMH register. It is also aimed at those people who would like to enhance their current experience and qualifications and train as a mental health specialist mentor to work with DSAs funded students. Route 2 is a course likely to commence in January 2017.

Please note

The purpose of the consortium’s alternative accreditation scheme is to enable specialist mentors to become members of the University Mental Health Advisers Network (UMHAN), and in doing so be eligible to register with DSA QAG for the purposes of providing DSAs-funded specialist mental health mentoring. The alternative accreditation scheme, with two distinct ‘Routes’, was developed with input from UMHAN and from the DSAs team at the Department of Education (formerly BIS). DfE approved the scheme and agreed that successful participants of the scheme who subsequently register with UMHAN will be recognised on the DSA QAG NMH register.

To clarify, the scheme does not lead to DSA QAG registration on its own, but enables successful participants to register with UMHAN.

The Route 1 requirement for two references, including a reference from a clinical practitioner, forms part of the scheme that has been approved by DfE. The consortium which offers this alternative route has no plans to remove or amend that requirement (DfE, August 2016).

Route 1

The Route 1 scheme is targeted at people who are already in the sector and practising as specialist mental health mentors.


Participants would be expected to have been practicing as a mental health mentor embedded within a university system and to have amassed a minimum of 100 hours mentoring, to have on-going CPD and to have been in receipt of supervision by a qualified practitioner.
All applicants are to have a degree or degree equivalent i.e DipSW


Participants will be expected to submit the following:

  1. Current CV.
  2. Guided assignment of 2000 words demonstrating how they approach different aspects of the role.
  3. Guided essay of 1500 words indicating their understanding and experience of the effect of two of a list of nominated MH conditions on a student’s likely path through HE.
  4. Two references: one from someone who has *supervised their work and one from a relevant and qualified member of an academic institution i.e. within the Disability Department - the mental health adviser, head of wellbeing service etc. Both references need to have appropriate professional standing.
  5. Participants will also:
  6. Sit an interview in person.
  7. Provide evidence of regular supervision arrangements already in place from a qualified practitioner (as per above via a reference) or provide evidence of supervision being put in place going forward if *supervision to date has been via a less formal arrangement ​as you can always apply at a later date once your supervisor can comment fully on your work​.
  8. Provide evidence of any CPD attended and a commitment to ongoing CPD.

Assessment Panel

An assessment panel consisting of people within the consortium of Royal Holloway, UMO, UMHAN and external to this will mark, pass or fail participants. There will be a simple appeal procedure to allow quick resolution of any disagreements.


If possible we will offer interviews at a range of locations assuming there are enough candidates from different areas to make this feasible.


The scheme would be certified by Royal Holloway and UMO but would not be credit-bearing in terms of HE awards.


On gaining certification, persons will then be considered eligible to join UMHAN and therefore eligible to join the DSA QAG NMH register i.e. accredited. This route is available to practitioners employed directly by higher education institutions and those working externally with higher education students.

UMHAN members are required to adhere to a Code of Ethics and a complaints procedure, and would have to make a declaration of fitness to practice, which would include an enhanced DBS clearance declaration.

Annual accreditation through UMHAN will be in the range of £50 per annum alongside an annual £90 membership fee.


To mark, assess, check and validate the credentials alongside sitting an interview, the total cost will be £350 per registration, which includes £50 initial registration fee due at the outset, a £200 marking fee due on submission and a final £100 interview fee due when work is marked and candidate is shortlisted for interview.

In order for the scheme to operate at this cost point a minimum of 40 individuals must register. Should this threshold not be reached those who have registered will be contacted and provided with options but we are currently optimistic that we will reach the threshold.

We will aim to ensure those registering at the outset and submitting their assignments and other paperwork promptly – i.e within three weeks of notification – will be offered interview date in September.

If you want to follow this route, please notify us and make your £50 deposit payment to Royal Holloway. This will cover initial administration but be returnable.

Route 2

Route 2 is targeted at:

  1. Those who do not meet the criteria to take Route 1 i.e. those who have current or past experience of mentoring students with psychological problems, but do not have 100 hours experience
  2. Those who either do not pass Route 1 or who cannot amass adequate documentation to follow Route 1.

Route 2 will be a part-time course run over three months with some training elements (10 one day sessions to be held in London), as well as scrutiny of evidence of practice, set up and run by the consortium of Royal Holloway, UMO and UMHAN.

The Route 2 course will provide the opportunity for participants to learn and then demonstrate the skills, capacity and experience to be accredited as a specialist mental health mentor.

On completion of the training, successful participants will have reached the required standards to apply for membership of UMHAN and thus be eligible to join the DSA QAG NHM register. The scheme would be certified by Royal Holloway and UMO but would not be credit-bearing in terms of HE awards.

It will give you an appropriate qualification that will ensure that such organisations have a guarantee of your professional knowledge and standards, certified by Royal Holloway and UMO.


To be accepted onto the course applicants will need to have significant relevant experience in the mental health field and an appropriate higher education qualification or experience.


This training would be at a projected cost of £1350 for the whole course.

In order for the scheme to operate at this cost point a minimum of 40 individuals must register. Should this threshold not be reached those who have registered will be contacted and provided with options, but we are currently optimistic that we will reach the threshold.

A £50 deposit will secure a place on the course but will be refundable should the course not run.


Please get in contact at info@dsamhm.org