Advocates support people in having their views heard and their rights defended in the mental health treatment that they receive. Advocates may be paid or voluntary workers, who are trained in listening and negotiating skills, as well as having knowledge of mental health services and legislation and an understanding of cultural competence.
- Independent Mental Health Act Advocates- these are professionally trained advocates who support people who are detained under the Mental Health Act. They can provide information about people’s rights under the Act and can help get a legal representative for a Mental Health Review Tribunal.
- Mental Health Review Tribunal Legal Advocates- these are advocates who have been legally trained to the standards required by the Law Society to represent patients at Mental Health Review Tribunals.
- Independent Mental Capacity Act Advocates- these are advocates who have been professionally trained to support people who lack the capacity to make decisions about specific changes to their care.
Alcohol or Drug Worker
These are also known as substance misuse workers as they help people to tackle problems of substance abuse involving drugs, alcohol or solvents.
Approved Mental Health Professional (AMHP)
An Approved Mental Health Professional can be a nurse, psychologist, social worker or occupational therapist who has had appropriate training who under the Mental Health Act 1983 can apply for compulsory admission to hospital or treatment of a person suffering from mental illness who is thought to be a danger to self or others. These have replaced the former Approved Social Workers.
An art therapist helps people express difficult emotions and explore problems through using art materials such as paint, paper and clay. People don’t have to be good at art to benefit from art therapy. Art therapy can be helpful where someone finds it difficult to express themselves in words.
Following an assessment of a person’s needs, a care plan may be put in place, which involves the services of several people (e.g. a psychiatrist, a doctor and a social worker). The care co-ordinator is the worker who ensures that the care plan is functioning well, by acting as a link between the patient and the others involved in their care. Care co-ordinators are part of the Community Mental Health Team.
A carer is someone who provides regular and substantial care to someone with mental health problems, but is not a paid care worker. A carer could be a relative, partner, friend or neighbour. They may not necessarily live with the person they care for.
Clinical psychologists work with people with a wide range of mental health difficulties, including anxiety, depression, addictions and social and interpersonal problems. They carry out assessments and work out treatment plans in order to help people understand their difficulties and make positive changes in their lives. This may include counselling, advice and therapeutic techniques.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapist
A cognitive behaviour therapist helps people solve their difficulties by examining their thoughts and how these affect their behaviour. Cognitive behavioural therapy focuses on solving problems here and now, rather than looking into the past for their causes. It aims to teach strategies for dealing with emotional problems and is usually given over a limited period of time.
Complementary therapists are practitioners of various complementary, alternative or holistic treatments which do not fall under conventional medicine. They include, for example: hypnotherapists, aromatherapists, homeopaths, reflexologists and massage therapists.
Counsellors provide talking treatments. They help people explore their thoughts and feelings in a safe setting by listening carefully in a non-judgemental manner, talking things over and discussing ways of coping.
Educational psychologists help young people overcome difficulties and social or emotional problems, which are affecting them in an educational setting and preventing them from learning.
Family therapists work with the family as a group. They help family members resolve difficulties by improving the way they communicate with each other. Family therapy aims to strengthen relationships, teach new coping skills and improve how the family works together.
General Practitioner (GP)
The General Practitioner is the family doctor, who provides medical care for patients in the community. GPs often work in health centres with other medical staff offering a range of health services. The GP can prescribe medication and refer on to other professionals as necessary.
Mental Health Nurse
Mental health nurses specialise in the care of people suffering from mental health difficulties. They have a variety of roles and may work in different settings. Registered Mental Nurses (RMNs) work in hospitals and Community Psychiatric Nurses (CPNs) work in the community as members of Community Mental Health Teams. They may carry out assessments, monitor medication, recommend reviews, offer advice and treatment techniques (such as anxiety management or relaxation therapy), and give support and information to carers.
A music therapist helps to improve people's emotional wellbeing, through music and sound. Music therapy can relieve stress, improve confidence and help express feelings.
Occupational therapists help people to achieve health, well being and life satisfaction through engaging in activity. They may assist people with carrying out activities of daily living, with equipment and adaptations to the home, and with undertaking leisure, social and educational activities.
A psychiatrist is a doctor who works with patients who have mental health problems. Psychiatrists are usually based in hospitals, community mental health teams and other specialist services.
Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner (PWP)
PWPs work within the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) service. They provide high-volume, low-intensity interventions based on a cognitive behavioural model for people with mild to moderate depression.
Psychotherapists help people overcome psychological difficulties and distress through a process of in-depth reflection on their inner thoughts, feelings and past experience. Different theoretical approaches may be used, e.g. psychoanalytic, humanistic, cognitive behavioural.
Social workers support people who are facing difficulties in their lives, helping them to find solutions to their problems. A social worker can act as adviser, advocate, counsellor or listener, as well as liaising with other relevant agencies.