Mental Health Practitioner

A mental health professional is a health care practitioner or social and human services provider who offers services for the purpose of improving an individual’s mental health or to treat mental disorders.

Mental Health Practitioners working in primary care take on a ‘first contact’ role often based on referrals from GPs within those practices.

The role will involve liaison with practice clinicians, as well as liaison with secondary care, social workers and voluntary sector staff, where appropriate, and making best use of third sector and other community opportunities for promotion of patient wellbeing and maintenance of mental health.  

As a guide, the Primary Care Mental Health Practitioner could be responsible for the assessment, structured intervention and signposting of a cohort of patients including: 

  • Those presenting with existing diagnosis of mental illness, who are currently not open to secondary care, inappropriate for other therapies such as Talking Space Plus (Oxon IAPT) and experiencing symptoms which would mean accessing Primary Care in the short term or in particular as frequent attenders.  
  • Those without an established mental health diagnosis who require mental health support and/or brief intervention and/or signposting where that would otherwise be provided by a GP.  
  • Those with diagnosed personality disorders whom have been discharged from other services/therapies or who are awaiting inclusion in, for example, the Complex Needs Service (and who therefore cannot access specific support such as Talking Space Plus) and who require holding support or signposting. 
  • Those presenting non-specific, as yet undefined, mental health needs/distress to reception, for whom a telephone or face to face brief assessment can take the place of a GP triage or brief assessment.  
  • Individual practices may choose to include other patient cohorts, such as review of those diagnosed with anxiety or depression, who would otherwise require a review with a GP. They may also include annual mental health reviews of those on the practice ‘severe and enduring mental illness’ register (or similar) with conditions such as bipolar, schizophrenia, severe depression with psychosis.  

Mental Health Practitioners, including Improving Access to Psychological Therapy (IAPT) are to be included in the scheme from April 2021.