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Mental Health Practitioners

What is a Mental Health Practitioner?

Sometimes referred to as a First Contact Mental Health Practitioner, this member of staff is an experienced professional who can support you with either a diagnosed or undiagnosed mental health concern. This could be one or a number of mental health feelings and symptoms such as anxiety, low mood, loneliness, grief, hallucinations or stress.

How can a mental health practitioner support me?

A mental health practitioner focuses on your individual mental health needs and offers a safe space to talk about your feelings and how they can be supported. They have the abilities to listen, advise you on support options available and can provide wider access to a registered mental health professional or service should you need it.

Where is a mental heath practitioner based?

Mental health practitioners are based within your local community. You may have access to one or multiple mental health practitioners depending on where you are from. A mental health practitioner works out of local GP surgeries and you would have an appointment at the GP surgery you are registered to.  

How do I make an appointment to see a mental health practitioner? 

Mental health practitioners are accessible via your GP Surgery and you do not require a referral from a GP. When calling up your GP surgery for an appointment the reception staff will be able to book you in for either a face-to-face or telephone appointment with the mental health practitioner. Visit your GP practice website for contact details. 

What can i expect from an appointment with a mental health practitioner?

During an initial appointment a mental health practitioner will ask some questions, and may use some screening tools, to help them understand the nature and extent of your concern. They will discuss the support options available and together with you, can decide on the next course of action. It may be agreed that they speak to you again to review how you are getting on, or to give you time to consider what you would like to happen next. In some instances a mental health practitioner may be able to provide a short-term intervention to help you overcome your difficulties rather than referring you elsewhere.

Will I need to see a mental health practitioner on a regular basis?

The frequency you interact with the mental health practitioner will depend of your personal circumstances and your discussed support plan. You may only have a one off appointment which is then followed up in a couple of weeks, or it may be more ongoing for a period of time. The mental health practitioner will discuss with you, what is best for you.

Why is the mental health practitioner based at my GP surgery?

Primary care networks are prioritising the need for dedicated mental health provision within their primary care teams and supporting patients within their practices via mental health practitioners.

Case study 1

"A patient who is a carer for their partner contacted the surgery as they were experiencing increased anxiety and were struggling to sleep at night. They were able to obtain a same day appointment with me where we explored the possible triggers for their anxiety, discussed some strategies for helping them to manage this and to overcome their sleep difficulties, and together we sought some additional support for them as a carer. We spoke again the following week and they had been put in touch with a local support group and had found themselves better able to manage their situation using a few strategies that we had discussed previously."

 Case study 2

"A patient struggling with increased feelings of isolation and unhappiness was advised to book an appointment with me by their GP following a review. During the course of a 30 minute appointment we were able to identify some of the reasons for their drop in mood and some possible goals to work towards to help improve this. Over the course of a few appointments they were steadily able to reconnect with family and friends, we liaised with their GP and commenced them on some medication to help their mood, and they reported notable improvements. They shared that simply having some space and time to talk things through with someone and find some practical steps to support them had been really beneficial."

 Case study 3

"A patient who had experienced a recent and unexpected bereavement contacted the surgery reporting difficulties coping with their emotions. We talked through their experience of loss and put them in touch with some relevant support services, as well as providing guidance and support about how to cope with their feelings. We continued to speak to each other over the course of a few appointments until they felt better able to manage – knowing that they were welcome to come back to me again if they needed."

Case study 4

"A patient who had a pattern of previous referrals to the community mental health team re-presented to the GP surgery and was offered ongoing assessment we me over three sessions where skills of emotional regulation, anxiety management and re-visiting past skills were used. I supported this patient alongside a GP directly in shared care prescribing. The patient was happy with the new skills learnt, we recapped their past care plan and put together a new relapse contingency plan and overall minimised the need for re-referral into the community mental health team.

"After the three sessions the patient was happy to cope along with awareness and contingency to return to me in future if needs presented."

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