Published on: 6th December 2023

Our new educational mental health practitioners are helping children across Greater Manchester get much needed early support in schools and colleges.

These practitioners are one of the key roles within mental health support teams - a service that provides early support to children experiencing emotional and behavioural difficulties, such as worry or low mood, in schools.

We run these mental health support teams in Bury, Oldham, Rochdale, Stockport and Tameside schools, and have recruited 40 trainee educational mental health practitioners over the past three years. Meet five of our colleagues who are helping kids to get this vital support:

Abbie Boylin.jpgAbbie Boylin, who recently qualified as an educational mental health practitioner in Bury and has a MSc in Psychology, said: “I had friends who struggled with their mental health in high school and at the time none of us knew where to get help. I now know how important early intervention is and I’m passionate about making mental health support more accessible.

I currently work in a primary school and a college in Bury supporting children and teenagers with their mental health. This is through both one-to-one and group support with young people or their parents. I also run mental health workshops.”

Megan Loizou.jpgCurrent trainee educational mental health practitioner, Megan Loizou, said:

“I studied psychology at Durham University and then qualified as a teacher. I was a teacher for five years and saw first-hand the worsening mental health of children year-on-year, particularly during the pandemic. I decided I wanted to be part of the solution, which led me to this role.”

Megan, who is now studying a one-year postgraduate diploma through the University of Manchester to become a qualified educational mental health practitioner, explains a typical week:

“I spend a couple of days each week in both primary and secondary schools in Tameside shadowing qualified practitioners. They’ll be completing intervention work and assessments with children, supporting them with mental health difficulties. The remainder of the week I’ll be in the office or at university.”

James Burke.jpgJames Burke, who qualified as an educational mental health practitioner in 2021, explains why he chose to work in children’s mental health:

I’ve always been passionate about helping others. Having personally struggled with feelings of worry and self-esteem myself, I can empathise towards others who are struggling. When I first I heard about this role, I thought it sounded like a wonderful new initiative and a fantastic opportunity.”

James, who works with one secondary and three primary schools in Rochdale, adds: “I feel very privileged to be doing the work that I do. The most rewarding part is establishing good relationships, children get the most out of my support when they are free to express their problems and not worried of being judged.

"I especially enjoy those moments when someone has bottled things up for a long time and they start opening up to you. You can visibly see how a weight has been suddenly lifted.”

Katie Rhodes.pngKatie Rhodes, who qualified in 2022 and also works in Rochdale, said:

The most rewarding part of my role is working with young people and their families and seeing them overcome the difficulties that brought them to work with me. Being part of a team that makes such a positive difference to the lives of so many young people is amazing.

Katie delivers a mix of low intensity, cognitive-behavioural therapy to children and young people, as well as their parents and carers. Katie adds:

“I also work with school staff around the wider approach to mental health and wellbeing in the school, which might involve delivering staff training, assemblies, or workshops.”

Jenny Dixson.jpgJenny Dixson, a former teacher, recently qualified as an educational mental health practitioner in Stockport, said;

“I’ve had a wide and diverse career in teaching; from working with children from the traveller community, to teaching children admitted to hospital due to mental health issues or eating disorders.

“As soon as I found out about this new role, I was keen to apply. I’ve worked with children on mental health and eating disorders wards for almost 10 years; and feel very passionate about helping children receive the early support they need to stop them for ever getting to that stage. In my previous roles, I was very aware of the lack of understanding in schools and the need for mental health support at all levels.”

Jenny added: "I work with primary and secondary schools, and most recently a college, so I support children aged 8 to 18 years old. Seeing children and teenagers talk openly about their mental health is hugely rewarding. I work with children one-to-one and in groups; I also organise workshops, deliver assemblies, and hold parent coffee mornings on a wide range of topics and themes.”

We are currently recruiting for several roles within our mental health support teams, visit our CAMHS jobs page for more information.