In light of recent updates from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), there is useful new guidance that provides clarity on the protocols surrounding the sharing of staff data during mental health emergencies. This guidance is particularly relevant to you as leaders within educational institutions, where the welfare of your staff is of paramount concern.


Key Points from the New ICO Guidance:

  • Emergency Circumstances: 
    The updated guidance reassures employers that they can share personal details of their employees in situations where there is a genuine belief that the individual is at risk of causing serious harm to themselves or others due to their mental health condition.
  • Balancing Privacy and Safety: 
    It is crucial to balance the need for privacy with the need for intervention in serious circumstances. The guidance outlines how and when it is appropriate to share such sensitive information, emphasising the need for thoughtful consideration and respect for the individual’s privacy.
  • Implementing the Guidance: 
    School and MAT leaders are advised to familiarise themselves with the new guidance. This will ensure that all actions taken in such emergencies are compliant with data protection laws and are carried out with the individual’s safety and privacy in mind.
  • Data Sharing Hub: 
    The ICO has also reminded organisations, as part of this update, of their data sharing hub. This offers practical guides on the sharing of personal information and is invaluable for understanding the legal and ethical considerations involved in data sharing, particularly in sensitive situations.

Key Takeaways for School and MAT Leaders:

  • Review and Understand the New Guidance:
    Ensure that you and your senior staff understand the conditions under which staff data can be shared in a mental health emergency.
  • Training and Awareness:
    Provide training for your staff on the new guidelines to ensure they are equipped to handle such situations sensitively and legally.
  • Update Policies:
    Review and, if necessary, update your school or MAT’s data protection and mental health policies, as well as privacy notices, to align with the new ICO guidance.
  • Promote Mental Health Awareness:
    Foster an environment where staff feel supported and can openly discuss mental health issues, reducing the stigma and potentially mitigating emergencies before they arise.
  • Data Protection Officer (DPO) Involvement:
    Ensure we are involved as your DPO in the review and implementation of these new guidelines to ensure compliance and to safeguard the rights of your staff.
    We will be looking at how we can adapt our templates (policies and privacy notices) to take into account this guidance and also look to run training courses on the topic in the coming months.
    Watch this space!
For more detailed information, please read the full guidance provided by the ICO here.


We understand that this is a sensitive area, combining the need to respect personal privacy with the imperative to protect individuals in crisis. The updated guidance offers a clear framework for action, helping you to navigate these complex issues with confidence and care.


If you have any other questions about this or any other data protection topic, please contact us at

Stay safe and healthy,

The SchoolPro TLC Team


SchoolPro TLC Ltd (2024)

SchoolPro TLC guidance does not constitute legal advice.

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