Education mental health practitioner

Educational mental health practitioners (EMHPs) work across education and healthcare to provide mental health support for children and young people in schools and colleges.  

Your role will be to provide low intensity interventions such as guided self help based on cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and group-based CBT for those with persistent mild to moderate depression.  

Mental health staff

Working life

This role supports the Government's priority of increasing access to and availability of mental health and wellbeing support for children and young people. Your main focus will be to provide early intervention and support to children, their parents and schools.

As part of your work, you might: 

  • look at sleep hygiene, problem solving and panic cycles  
  • provide education for managing anxiety and depression 
  • promote approaches to improve emotional health and wellbeing 
  • advise and signpost education staff on further information to ensure children and young people get the right support

You will provide support to children and young people on a one-to-one basis. You will also be trained to provide schools and colleges with whole-organisation approaches to mental health and wellbeing.  

If you work in primary schools or social, emotional and mental health or learning disability settings, your work will also involve liaison with parents and carers.

Where will I work? 

While training, your 12-month university course will combine:

  • academic and theory elements delivered by a university within your region
  • self-study
  • work-based placements in, for example, schools and/or colleges, special schools or pupil referral units 

Once qualified, you will be employed by a healthcare organisation but work in or around education settings such as schools, colleges, special schools or pupil referral units. You might also work in healthcare premises.   

Who will I work with? 

You will work within mental health support teams (MHSTs)designed to help meet the mental health needs of children and young people aged between five and 18. The teams work in primary, secondary and further education settings and consist of:  

  • team of EMHPs (usually four)
  • higher-level therapists and senior staff, some of whom will undertake specific training to act as EMHP supervisors
  • a service lead or team manager, who may manage more than one MHST across a regional area
  • administrative support  

You will be supervised throughout your training year. Once qualified, you will be supported by experienced staff members who have undertaken EMHP supervision training. 

Entry requirements 

The programme is open to applicants with a range of experience of working in mental health and with children and young people in schools.  

You do not need a previous degree qualification to apply for this training programme. However, you will need to demonstrate your ability to work at degree level, and have experience of working with children and young people to support their mental health.  

Training programmes commence in September and January each year and you can search for opportunities on the NHS jobs website. Set up an alert for ‘Trainee education mental health practitioner’ to find training opportunities near you.  

Training is funded at the equivalent of Agenda for Change Band 4 and you will gain academic credit at postgraduate level. Once qualified, you'll be guaranteed a job as part of a mental health support team working in a school or college.   

With experience, you can undertake training to become an EMHP supervisor.

Skills and personal characteristics needed 

Educational mental health practitioners need: 

  • excellent interpersonal skills and the ability to build relationships with a range of people 
  • the ability to build close, trusting and productive relationships with people 
  • to be able work well within a multidisciplinary team 
  • a good understanding of mental health issues 
  • strong written and verbal communication skills, tailored to a variety of audiences 
  • to be able to work independently and use initiative to think quickly on the spot - often in challenging situations 
  • creativity to solve problems and tackle obstacles 
  • effective time management for tight deadlines and managing competing demands 

It is also desirable to have: 

  • presentation skills
  • additional languages 
  • knowledge of the school and education system 

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