The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice

ISSN: 1755-6228

Article publication date: 16 September 2011



Bailey, D. (2011), "Editorial", The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice, Vol. 6 No. 3. https://doi.org/10.1108/jmhtep.2011.55506caa.001



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited


Article Type: Editorial From: The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice, Volume 6, Issue 3

Interdisciplinary working and learning has formed the bedrock of modern mental health services since the introduction of the National Service Framework for mental health in 1999 and the related Policy Implementation Guide in 2001. Contemporary service design and delivery is predicated upon a greater degree of integration that draws from a range of disciplines combining skills, theories and expertise in response to the diverse needs of service users. The new Mental Health Act 2007, the revised Care Programme Approach in 2008 and the New Ways of Working initiative in 2005 are explicitly geared to fostering collaborative practice that supports a more inclusive model of mental health, fashioned on the premise of recovery for those who use services.

However, whilst the policy framework has had over ten years to embed practice, it is still beset with a number of challenges. First, despite the found favour of the recovery model, there remains an absence of a shared philosophy of practice between disciplines, particularly health and social care. In addition, the lack of a common language to define and describe interdisciplinary working that includes non-professionally affiliated workers, service users and carers alongside professionals, does little to assist practitioners articulate how their respective unique contributions can be augmented by collaborative practice. Finally, because of the increasing complexity of community mental health services compared with historical hospital provision, treatment regimes that need to straddle the hospital-community interface are rarely experienced as seamless.

This edition is dedicated to exploring in more detail these issues in an attempt to revisit the debate about how to provide interdisciplinary practice and education that supports, rather than undermines, collaboration between disciplines as well as between professionals and service users and carers.

Margaret McAllister, Shirley Morrissey, Donna Mcauliffe, Graham Davidson, Harry McConnell and Prasuna Reddy’s paper provides an example of an interdisciplinary education programme in Australia which seeks to support transformative learning in multidisciplinary teams, with the explicit goal of supporting change in care delivery. Jenny Weinstein and Markella Boudioni discuss the issues in England of providing joint training programmes for nurses and social workers as an attempt to foster more holistic practice with groups of service users who have complex needs spanning mental health and learning disabilities. This paper suggests that by bringing together two historically different professional cultures, the emerging workforce has the opportunity to develop their new identity as, first and foremost, mental health practitioners.

Marjorie Lloyd, Liz Lefroy, Stephen Yorke and Richard Mottershead’s review of the literature and exploration of opportunities for vicarious learning provides a valuable reminder that carers are often the most forgotten group in interdisciplinary working and learning. Their perspectives, when included in mental health education highlight needs, different to those of service users but worthy of equal consideration for improving practice.

The importance of the key messages for education of the mental health workforce identified from these first three papers is then reinforced by the final two papers in the edition that are geared towards collaborative practice. Peter Nolan, Eleanor Bradley and Neil Brimblecombe’s study explores service users’ beliefs about treatment in acute inpatient settings, showing that prolonged exposure to mental health services will shape service users’ perceptions either positively or negatively and will thus determine future engagement with practitioners. Yasir Abbasi, Mark Broadhurst, Allan Johnston and Sathya Vishwanath provide an example of setting up a new service of adult-liaison psychiatry from an organisational perspective and the pattern of referrals and responses that ensued. The delivery of this new service in turn afforded really valuable opportunities for interdisciplinary learning and development, especially for the psychiatry trainees involved.

Taken together, these papers suggest that interdisciplinary mental health care is a worldwide concern that involves professionals working and learning alongside service users and carers. It is being embraced by mental health education, training and practice through many innovative examples such as the ones presented in this edition.

Di Bailey

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