Reflective voices: primary care mental health workers' experiences in training and practice

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Background: The role of the primary care mental health worker (PCMHW) in providing self-help and signposting to people referred for mild-moderate anxiety and depression is currently being complemented by low-intensity workers training under the government’s improving access to psychological therapies (IAPT) programme. Aim: This study aims to explore the experiences of five PCMHWs working in the context of a newly designed primary care mental health team in London. Methods: Thematic analysis of participants’ written reflective papers provides a qualitative exploration of issues and concerns raised by PCMHWs during a fortnightly reflective practice group. Results: Themes emerging from participants’ written accounts highlight: difficulties in applying academic and skills training to the real-life world of clinical practice; difficulties in managing issues of risk and complexity; role confusion; and the need for a visible and coherent career structure. Conclusions: The study highlights the psychological impact on PCMHWs of managing complex client referrals.This is discussed in the context of the high volume case turnover anticipated by IAPT training curricula. Implications for the training and education of IAPT low-intensity workers are briefly considered.

© Cambridge University Press 2009. This is an author produced version of a paper published in Primary Health Care Research & Development, uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self- archiving policy. The final published version (version of record) is available online at the link below. Some minor differences between this version and the final published version may remain. We suggest you refer to the final published version should you wish to cite from it.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-86
JournalPrimary Health Care Research & Development
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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