Low-intensity workers: lessons learned from supervising primary care mental health workers and dilemmas associated with such roles

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Abstract:

The UK government's latest primary care mental health initiative, Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT), seeks to achieve its aims partly through the extensive use of low-intensity workers (LIWs). As clinical supervisors to teams of primary care mental health workers (PCMHWs) already offering brief, evidence-based interventions in primary care mental health services, we draw on the growing body of literature and our own experience to discuss dilemmas associated with the roles of such workers. These concern clinical governance, training, supervision and integration into existing services. We discuss how IAPT service characteristics may provide solutions to some of these dilemmas. We argue that it is unlikely they will be completely resolved and that IAPT services, in addressing future challenges, could benefit from lessons learned from the PCMHW role.

Keywords: IAPT; LOW-INTENSITY WORKERS; PRIMARY CARE MENTAL HEALTH

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Lewisham Psychological Therapies Service – Primary Care, South London and Maudsley Foundation NHS Trust, Fourth Floor, Ladywell Unit, University Hospital Lewisham, London SE13 6LW, UK;, Email: melanie.shepherd@slam.nhs.uk 2: Chartered Clinical Psychologist, Lambeth Primary Care Psychology Service, London, UK

Publication date: December 1, 2008

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