Role of the educational mental health practitioner (EMHP)

 Content Editor

What is an educational mental health practitioner (EMHP)?
EMHPs are a brand-new addition to the children and young people’s mental health workforce and will be a core part of our Mental Health Support Team in Warrington. 

Our eight trainee EMHPs started a 12-month training programme in early 2020, which will be split between classroom theory and practice placements in our local schools. They will complete the programme and become qualified EMHPs in September 2020.

The EMHP training course consists of the following six modules:
  • Children and young people’s mental health settings (context and values)
  • Assessment and engagement 
  • Evidence based interventions for common mental health problems with children and young people (theory and skills) 
  • Working, assessing and engaging in education settings
  • Common problems and processes in education settings
  • Interventions for emerging mental health difficulties in education settings
During their training year, EMHPs are required to complete placements across schools and colleges in their local area, with the support of their supervisors. This will help ensure they are equipped and experienced to work with different types of schools, as well as children and young people with a range of mental health needs.  

Our EMHPs will provide direct, ongoing support to schools around mental health and wellbeing. They will have three core functions once they have completed their training. 

1. Delivering evidence-based interventions for mild to moderate mental health issues. 
  • Individual face-to-face work eg brief, low-intensity interventions for children, young people and families experiencing anxiety, low mood, friendship or behavioural difficulties.
  • Group work for pupils or parents eg cognitive behavioural therapy for young people with conditions such as anxiety. 
  • Group parenting classes to include issues with conduct disorder and communication difficulties.
2. Supporting the senior mental health lead in each school or college to introduce or develop their whole-school approach.
  • Work with the senior mental health lead and existing service providers, to map what provision is already in place in the education setting and where the gaps are.   
  • Provide targeted help as agreed with the senior mental health lead eg supporting the monitoring of wellbeing across the school, and providing education around mental health
3. Giving timely advice to school and college staff, and liaising with external specialist services, to help children and young people to get the right support and stay in education.
  • Work as part of an integrated referral system with community mental health services to ensure children and young people who need support receive it as quickly as possible.
  • External support could include more specialist NHS mental health support, support for autism, learning difficulties or physical needs, or for issues such as substance misuse.
  • Ensure a smooth transition from specialist services.

What EMHPs can and can’t help with
There are many things EMHPs can help with in your school but where needs are more complex, they may need to refer a young person onto an external agency that is better placed to help. 

The below table shows the types of things EMHPs can help with, things they may be able to help with (with discretion and under close supervision), and things they won’t be able to help with.

​EMHPs can help with
​EMHPs may help with
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​EMHPs can't help with
​Behavioural difficulties –
identification, brief parenting support.
​Support staff and help co-facilitate a full parenting
programme such as Triple P.
​Conduct disorder, anger management, full parenting programmes such as Triple P, Solihull Approach.
​Training parents and teachers to support interventions with children.
​Irritability as a symptom of depression (can present as anger).
​Treatment of parents’ depression and anxiety.
​Low mood.
​Low confidence, assertiveness or interpersonal challenges eg with peers.
​Anger management training, chronic depression.
​Worry management.
​Some short-term phobia exposure work.
​Low self-esteem, social anxiety disorder.
​Anxiety / avoidance eg simple phobias, separation anxiety.
​Thoughts of self-harm, superficial self-harm. Basic harm reduction techniques.
​Extensive phobias, eg blood, needles or vomit phobia.
​Panic management.
​Insomnia (further training may be required).
​Severe, active, high risk self-harm.
​Assessing self-harm and supporting with alternative coping strategies.

Pupils with history of self-harm, but not active.
​Assessment of complex interpersonal challenges.
​Post traumatic stress disorder, trauma, nightmares.
​Sleep hygiene.
​Mild/early onset obsessive compulsive disorder (further training may be required).
​Relationship problems -counselling for issues such as relationship problems may be better suited to school counsellors.
​Thought challenging – negative thoughts.
​Children that are displaying rigid, ritualistic behaviour that may or may not be within a diagnosis of autism.
​Obsessive compulsive disorder moderate to severe in nature.
​Problem solving.

​Moderate to severe attachment disorders.

Assessment and diagnosis of developmental disorders and learning difficulties.

​Pain management.

​Historical or current experiences of abuse or violence.