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A graduate primary care mental health worker pilot study: facilitating access to voluntary and community sector services. A description of the 'Community Link Service'

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Abstract:

Background The NHS Plan proposed that 1000 graduate primary care mental health workers (GPCMHWs) be employed by 2004. Recruitment of GPCMHWs and their enrolment on university training courses has begun; however, the specific roles to be carried out by GPCMHWs are still in the process of being defined, and there is a limited evidence base to underpin this.

Aims The current paper discusses a pilot study of GPCMHWs facilitating access to voluntary and community services, via a 'Community Link Service'. The rationale behind the facilitator role and its application to primary care are provided, and vignettes are employed to help clarify and illustrate the service within the context of primary care.

Results People supported by the GPCMHW service were most likely to have experienced depression, anxiety, isolation or difficulties around relationships and work, and tended to fall within typical ranges of clinically affected populations (as measured on the General Health Questionnaire-12, Clinical Outcomes in Routine Evaluation, and Work and Social Adjustment Scale). Perceptions of primary care staff about the project were generally favourable.

Conclusions It is feasible for GPCMHWs, with relevant training and support, to set up and run a primary care-based service facilitating access for patients to voluntary and community sector organisations.

Keywords: GRADUATE PRIMARY CARE MENTAL HEALTH WORKERS (GPCMHWS); PRIMARY CARE; VOLUNTARY SECTOR

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2005

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