19th Jan, 20
Working as a Mental Health Practitioner at Action for Children (AFC)
For three years I was employed as a Mental Health Practitioner for the charity Action for Children (AFC). During this time, my role involved training staff in mental health and associated issues, as well as providing a mental health service to children and young people living in the Wigan Borough. Within this position, I was working alongside intensive family support (IFS) workers who provided support to extremely vulnerable families under the care of children’s social care. Often families had failed to previously engage with services, however almost every family who were offered the mental health support over the three years choose to engage.
A huge benefit of the role and why I believe engagement levels were so high was because this was the only mental health service in Wigan which provided therapeutic support to children and young people on an outreach basis. Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) will rarely visit children at home and other counselling services available require the young person to travel to them. I found that it was a great advantage to be able to have sessions with the young people in an environment they felt most comfortable. Young people have often discussed with me the fear they feel when attending their first CAMHS or counselling appointment, therefore I found it to be a great advantage to be able to offer a choice around where it will be held. In addition, the role allowed me to offer mental health to parents and carers, along with working systematically with the family.
The training aspect of the job was especially important as I believe all professionals working with children and young people should receive training around mental health and wellbeing. I was quite surprised to find how very little training is provided to key organisations working at the frontline with children and young people, such as children’s social care, the police and prison officers. In addition to working in Wigan, I delivered cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) to prisoners serving their sentences in the mother and baby unit at New Hall Prison in Wakefield. The rationale behind this was to provide support to vulnerable mothers to enable them to feel more able to cope with life’s struggles, as well as feel confident developing resilience in their children.
Please see below a link to a video which was published that outlines in more detail the impact this role had. How the mental health support was delivered within this role provides a great example of how future services could offer effective support to children and young people:BACK TO BLOG