New ways of working: how mental health practitioners perceive their training and role

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Abstract

This paper outlines advances in the mental health workforce by detailing the development, education and training of graduates from the social sciences in mental health practice. The mental health practitioner (MHP) programme is a partnership between higher education and the National Health Service to provide graduates with a new point of entry into the mental health workforce. The MHP is a new role in mental health i.e. in principle, trans-disciplinary, traversing psychology, nursing and occupational therapy. The role is informed by a bio-psychosocial philosophy of collaborative mental health care and therefore acts as a bridge between the different professions that constitute a multidisciplinary team on acute inpatient units and in the community. However, MHPs form part of the nursing team and work most closely with mental health nurses. They see their role as linked to, but other than, nursing. This paper will discuss the development of this programme and its philosophy of care, and will present outcome research on trainee perceptions and experiences of occupying the MHP role in mental health. It will present findings from the first stage of a longitudinal study (employing interviews and survey data) about trainee perceptions of their role and training before the programme commenced, 6 months into their training and at graduation.

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