A day in the life of a Mental Health Support Team

Rose Ackland from Portsmouth CAMHS Mental Health Support Team shares her experience working as an Education Mental Health Practitioner:

“The Mental Health Support Team aim to offer support for children and young people who have an anxiety or low mood presentation. We are able to offer early intervention to prevent further mental health presentations and we are currently linked to the majority of schools in Portsmouth. We hold regular consultations with school staff to discuss any mental health concerns they may have regarding any of the children in their schools. For children under the age of 12, we offer parent led work either 1:1 or in a group setting where we meet weekly for six to eight weeks following the Cathy Creswell approach ‘Helping my Child with Fears and Worries’. These sessions are delivered by ‘Education Mental Health Practitioners’ like me.

For young people over the age of 12, we use low intensity cognitive behavioural therapy to support and provide techniques through self-help interventions such as: worry management, cognitive restructuring, graded exposure, and behavioural activation. We use a stepped care model to establish whether a child or young person needs to be stepped up to high intensity cognitive therapy, Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) or whether another service would be more beneficial. We are patient centred at all times and include young people and families in these decisions.

Through our school consultations we are able to offer a whole school approach by delivering workshops to parents, children and teaching staff. We have offered coffee mornings for parents to come and discuss any mental health concerns regarding their child, which have proven to be really useful in some schools. We have also started to deliver assemblies to help children to recognise their feelings and explore simple coping strategies to help them manage those feelings.

As part of my role, I have recently worked with a young person who was not able to enjoy the things they used to and would come home from school and hide away in their bedroom and not interact with their family or friends at all. They had a low mood presentation which started during the COVID-19 lockdowns. We saw each other every week for six weeks and worked through the behavioural activation treatment, which focuses on doing activities to feel better (working from the outside in). We were able to establish what the young person valued in their life and took small steps to plan activities into each week that would slowly build their confidence and raise their mood. By the end of our six weeks, they were able to walk their dog every day and hang out with friends more.

I know it sounds cheesy, but I really do feel like the luckiest person to do the job I do and work in a team that is all about helping young people. Mental health matters and is everyone’s business so I am thrilled to be part of spreading this message!”

You can find out more about the role of Mental Health Support Teams by visiting our dedicated webpage.

Information about the SEMH pathways to support available in Portsmouth can be found in our new guidance for professionals and families.