A Guide to your Community Mental Health Team

amathus

amathus

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This is a brief introduction to the make up of a typical CMHT:

Most mental health problems don't need a psychiatrist. Your GP can give you support, prescribe anti-depressants or refer you to a counsellor or psychotherapist. However, if your problems are more complicated, your GP may want to refer you to a CMHT

A Guide to your Community Mental Health Team
 
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amathus

amathus

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The Consultant Psychiatrist:

Psychiatrists


Role
A consultant psychiatrist usually works in a community mental health team which is involved in looking after people living in a certain area. Team members include trainee psychiatrists, social workers, community psychiatric nurses, psychologists and others.
The consultant or the team will have patients referred to them by GPs and other professionals such as health visitors and social workers. Referrals are then allocated to various members in the team, depending on the nature of the individual's problems. The consultant has overall responsibility for the management of patients under the care of the team.
The consultant will also have responsibility for a certain number of patients in a hospital ward.
A consultant is approved under Section 12 of the Mental Health Act, enabling them to recommend the involuntary detention of a patient who is severely ill in hospital in the interests of their health, their safety or the safety of others. Involuntary detention in hospital only occurs if two doctors and an approved social worker all agree that this is an appropriate thing to happen.
The consultant often has a senior house officer or a specialist registrar under their supervision. The consultant closely supervises and monitors their work and progress.
A psychiatrist may use psychological treatments or medication to help a patient with depression.


Training
Basic medical training: the same as for GPs.
Many psychiatrists then gain training and experience for a few years in a branch of medicine before entering psychiatry, such as general practice or hospital based medicine.
Training in psychiatry takes a minimum of six years. During the first three years, the trainee (senior house officer in psychiatry) gains experience in a broad range of mental health services (eg general psychiatry, old age and child psychiatry, drug and alcohol services and psychotherapy). The trainee then has to pass an exam for the qualification Membership of the Royal College of Psychiatrists (MRCPsych).
Trainee psychiatrists (specialist registrars in psychiatry) then spend three years specialising in a branch of psychiatry (such as general adult psychiatry, old age psychiatry or psychotherapy). Training will involve learning about the appropriate use of both psychological and drug treatments for psychiatric illnesses. Upon satisfactory completion of this training they obtain a Certificate of Completion of Specialist Training (CCST). They are then eligible to apply for a consultant psychiatrist post in their specialty.

The Clinical Psychologist:

Clinical psychologists

People often get confused about the difference between a psychiatrist and a psychologist: a psychiatrist is a qualified medical doctor, but a psychologist is not. As a result, a psychiatrist is able to prescribe medicines, but a psychologist cannot.


Role
Clinical psychologists work both in hospitals and within community mental health teams.
Clinical psychologists see patients who are referred by GPs or the mental health team. Their work involves assisting in the assessment of the mental health needs of patients and undertaking psychological therapies with individuals and groups. Some also specialise in family or marital (or partner) therapy.


Training
Undergraduate degree in psychology (BSc).
Clinical experience for a few years as an assistant psychologist is then usually undertaken.
Three years postgraduate training, leading to a doctorate in clinical psychology (DClinPsychol), before becoming registered as a chartered clinical psychologist.
Psychologists often have areas of special experience and expertise, such as with drugs and alcohol problems, child and adolescent psychiatry or general adult psychiatry.
 
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