Mental Health Services/Teams in the
Mental health services are
undergoing a great deal of change and development at
present. In many areas, the traditional Community
Mental Health Team is being re-structured into new specialist
teams. Information on the new service teams should be available
from your local NHS mental health trust.
What is a mental health service/team in the
It is made up of a group of mental health
professionals who work together to help people with a wide range of
mental health problems. The different professions all have
different knowledge and skills which can be used to tackle problems
Why would I have been referred to
a mental health service/team in the community?
Your GP might try to help you with a mental
health problem by giving support, prescribing antidepressants or
referring you to a counsellor or psychotherapist. But if your
problems are more complicated, or don't improve, they may refer you
to a mental health team in the community.
Who might I meet?
You will most often see a mental health
worker. They can be from a number of different professional
backgrounds (see below), but will all try to develop a trusting,
respectful and helpful relationship with you.
How will the team help me?
They will help to sort out what areas you need
help with, keep an eye on how you are, develop your strengths; work
to find answers to your current problems and help you to
How will I be seen?
You may be seen on your own, in a group with
other people or, sometimes, with your friends or family. Mental
health workers share a number of important skills, but can
also use their more specialist skills when needed. These
- Community Psychiatric Nurses (CPN)
- Social Workers
- Occupational Therapists (OT)
- Clinical Psychologists
The team manager will usually be a senior
nurse, or social worker, and will often not see clients themselves.
They are responsible for the practical details of running the team,
how the team works with other parts of the health service and other
organisations, helping the team to develop and making sure that the
team has high standards of practice. Receptionists and
secretaries also help the teams run smoothly.
These can include outreach workers, benefits
workers, support workers, recovery workers, vocational therapists,
art therapists and psychotherapists. Staff without a
professional qualification are now working more and more with such
teams, especially people who have had mental health problems,
advocates, and workers from day centres or housing organisations.
Specialist old age psychiatry teams may include professionals such
as speech therapists or physiotherapists.
Where do these services/teams work?
The team will have a base, like a clinic. They
may see you there, but can also see you in an out-patient clinic,
GP surgery, day-centre, or your home.
They work with you as an individual, but also
come together in groups to discuss how best to support you. At
regular team meetings, staff try to make sure that they have a
clear picture of your difficulties and strengths. They can then
plan the right help with you and will decide which member of the
group should work with you – this person would usually be your key
What is a key worker/care coordinator?
A key worker/care coordinator is usually a
social worker, occupational therapist or nurse. Their job is
to get to know you, learn about your difficulties, find out how you
see your problems, know about your strengths, discuss any plans
with you, give counselling, information and advice, to make sure
that you have care plan and that everybody is working together
What is a care plan (also known as a Recovery
The different parts of your help or treatment
are written down in a care plan. You should have a copy of this and
it should be looked at every few months (see below).
What is a Care Programme Approach (CPA)?
The CPA is a system for having a meeting every
few months with everyone who is involved in your care plan. You
will be invited to this meeting and, if you want, can bring a
carer, family member or advocate (see below) to support you.
What about confidentiality?
Members of a team have to keep your
information confidential in the same way as other doctors and
health-care staff. But they will share information about you with
other members of the team so that they can give you the best
possible care. They will also need to talk to your GP and any other
doctors whom you are seeing.
Can relatives and friends become
A mental health team may want your
family to be involved, but are still bound by medical
confidentiality. So, they will usually ask you for your permission
for this to happen. Many teams provide information for families and
offer support groups.
What about advocates?
An advocate can go to meetings with you to
help you to ask questions and get your message across to
professionals. They are usually employed by a voluntary
organisation or a different part of the health service.
Will I be offered the choice of pills or
This will depend both on what would be most
helpful - and on what you would prefer. Many people get help from
both medication and talking treatments.
Specialist mental health teams in the
In the UK, there is now a range of more
specialist teams in the community: Home treatment; Crisis
intervention; Early onset psychosis; First episode psychosis; ABT
(assessment and brief treatment); Continuing care; Rehabilitation;
Assertive Outreach and Forensic.
What can I expect from my local team?
Teams in different areas may be quite
different. Some services concentrate on helping people who have
severe and long-lasting mental illness, some on shorter treatments
for anxiety and depression. What any service provides is
decided between your local Health Authority which have the
money, and your local Mental Health Trust which runs the
For more in-depth information see our main
leaflet: Mental Health
Services/Teams in the Community
This leaflet reflects the most up-to-date evidence at the time
Produced by the RCPsych Public Education Editorial Board.
Series Editor: Dr Philip Timms
Reviewed by Sally Dean
© February 2014. Due for review: February
2016. Royal College of Psychiatrists.This leaflet
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