Exploring the experiences of trainee mental health workers: moving from theory to practice
The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice
Article publication date: 18 April 2018
Issue publication date: 16 May 2018
The Trainee Mental Health Worker (TMHW) Programme is an initiative developed collaboratively between Middlesex University and local NHS Mental Health Trusts in response to national workforce requirements for flexible clinical personnel. The purpose of this paper is to explore the experience of this new category of mental health workers and to address the feedback given by previous cohorts of TMHWs.
This qualitative study comprised of three focus groups who met over their year-long training. In total, 20 participants self-selected from a population of 60 TMHWs, and their expectations of the TMHW role prior to starting the programme and following each of two practice placements were explored.
The thematic analysis identified five domains: identity, career strategy, functioning in the system, status and responsibility; the TMHWs demonstrated notable changes in their attitude and behaviour as they progressed. The findings demonstrate the challenges of integrating a new type of workforce into the rigid systems of the health care service.
Focus groups by their nature are not always representative, and this programme is limited in its number of students.
This study has led to a greater understanding of the experiences of trainees across a variety of clinical settings.
The results from this study will assist employing trusts in recruitment and retention by helping them to understand this phenomenon and the role itself.
This study’s value lies in the insight it offers into the experience of a new kind of worker moving from novice status to practitioner outside the constraint of a professional registration.
Kirton, C., Lambert, N., Matheson, H. and Connell, S. (2018), "Exploring the experiences of trainee mental health workers: moving from theory to practice", The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice, Vol. 13 No. 3, pp. 137-147. https://doi.org/10.1108/JMHTEP-12-2016-0061
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