Education mental health practitioner

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

You’ll be trained to help children and young people manage common mental health problems, particularly mild to moderate symptoms of anxiety and depression, and behaviour problems.

Life as an education mental health practitioner

Your role will be to provide early support for children and young people such as cognitive therapy-based interventions, to address emerging mental health needs. 

You’ll also be trained to support schools and colleges with whole-organisation approaches to mental health and wellbeing. This role supports the Government's priority of increasing access to and availability of mental health and wellbeing support for children and young people.

You could: 

  • advise on sleep hygiene, problem solving and panic attacks  
  • educate young people in how to manage anxiety and depression 
  • promote approaches that improve emotional health and wellbeing 
  • advise education staff and signpost further information to ensure they can give children and young people the right support
If you work in primary schools or in social, emotional and mental health or learning disability settings, your work will also involve liaising with parents and carers.

Peter Watts

Education Wellbeing Practitioner
I feel particularly rewarded when clients that I am working with take steps to help themselves and make positive changes in their lives.

How much can I earn? 

If you’re employed by the NHS, you’ll be on a national pay and conditions system called Agenda for Change (AfC). 

There are nine pay bands and you’ll usually be paid at band 4 while you train. After completing your training you’ll be paid at band 5 with the opportunity to progress with experience. 

Terms and conditions can vary if you are employed outside the NHS.

How about the benefits? 

As an EMHP, you can: 
  • make a difference
  • work flexible and part-time hours
If you’re employed by the NHS you’ll also have good holiday entitlement and access to:
  • fully funded training plus a salary while you train and a job in the service when you qualify
  • an excellent pension scheme
  • NHS discounts in shops and restaurants

Must-have skills

You’ll need: 
  • excellent interpersonal skills 
  • the ability to build close, trusting and productive relationships with children and young people 
  • a good understanding of the education system
  • 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’s helpful also to have: 
  • good presentation skills
  • additional languages 
  • knowledge of the school and education system
You'll also need to be able to demonstrate the values of the NHS Constitution.

Entry requirements 

You’ll need to complete a training course to qualify as an EMHP. You can train for a postgraduate or graduate diploma, depending on whether or not you already have a degree qualification.    

Although you don’t need a degree to apply for this training programme, you’ll 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. 

The training is NHS funded and you are guaranteed a job as part of a mental health support team in a school or college once you’ve qualified. Courses typically consist of about 60 days of university, spread across a year. The remainder of your time will be spent in work-based placements, along with some self-study time. 

EMHPs can now register with the British Psychological Society (BPS) or the British Association of Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP). The register opened in April 2023 and all EMHPs will need to comply with the national requirement for registration by April 2024. The BPS and BABCP websites have all the details about how the registration process works, including the annual renewal requirement. 

How to become an education mental health practitioner

Your first step is to apply for a training programme. They begin throughout the year, and you can search for them on the NHS Jobs website. Set up an alert for ‘Trainee, education mental health practitioner’ to find training opportunities near you. You can find current vacancies below.


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
You will be employed by a healthcare organisation but will work in or around education settings, such as schools, colleges, special schools or pupil referral units, as part of a mental health support team (MHST), designed to help meet the mental health needs of children and young people aged 5–18. 

The teams work in primary, secondary and further education settings and consist of:  

  • a 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 region
  • administrative support
You will be supervised throughout your training year and beyond. You will also be supported by experienced staff members who have undertaken EMHP supervision training to help you engage in self-reflection, seek and respond to feedback, and develop your professional knowledge and skills.

Where a career as an education mental health practitioner can take you

With experience, you can train to become a senior EMHP or an EMHP supervisor.
It’s important to note that a two-year psychological professions funding rule policy was implemented on 1 April 2022. This means that if you start NHS-funded psychological professions training from April 2022, you won’t be eligible for NHS funding for further psychological profession training for two years from the expected completion date of your first training, where it would lead to a change in your job role.   
Visit the funding for psychological professions training programmes web page for more information about NHS funding.   

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