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Postgraduate certificate Primary Mental Health

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  • Objectives
    To provide training, which will enable the student to function as an effective mental health care provider within the primary care setting, equipped with the skills to: -Engage with patients -Assess the needs of patients with common mental health problems -Facilitate self-help techniques using goal-setting, behavioural activation and problem-solving techniques -Undertake organisational work within the primary care setting
  • Entry requirements
    Students are expected to possess an honours degree in a health related subject or relevant experience and be able to demonstrate the ability to study at Masters Level. Graduate Primary Mental Health Workers will be employed by one of the Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) within Cheshire & Merseyside who will sponsor the student’s training and provide the environment within which they will be enabled to achieve the clinical components of the course (under clinical supervision).
  • Course description

    This course is based on an original programme designed in partnership with the Universities of Manchester & Central Lancashire (UCLan). Originally developed to provide education and training for the new Graduate Primary Mental Health Worker (identified within the NHS Plan 2000) however elements of the programme would also enhance the knowledge and skills of primary care professionals, e.g Practice Nurses.

    Recent and current national policies have highlighted the capacity issues for primary care organisations in dealing with common mental health problems (NSF for Mental Health 1999; The NHS Plan 2000). Research indicates that 1:4 individuals will experience a mental health problem and 1:3 patients within primary care will have a psychological component to their health problems, addressing these issues will enhance the overall care of these patients.

    Primary Care Organisations have become the main commissioners of mental health care within the NHS but also play a role in the provision of services for patients experiencing common mental health problems and in particular depression (Enhanced Services for Depression (ESD).

    The Programme

    -The education programme at JMU has been designed to meet the 3 identified roles of the Graduate Primary Mental Health Workers (1,000 of whom were scheduled to be in place nationally by October 2004). The three roles identified are:

    -Face-to-face clinical work with primary care patients

    -Organisational work within primary care e.g. audits

    Wider liaison work with statutory/non-statutory relevant agencies

    The course prepares the students in assessment techniques, methods of facilitated self-help and brief intervention in line with the recommended “Stepped Care” approach (NICE), ensuring effective use of finite resources. The philosophy underpinning the training emphasises a person-centred approach to care where the patient/clinician relationship is key.

    The course will prepare the students to critically reflect on the development of primary care mental health services and the provision of evidence-based therapeutic interventions.

    Course Content

    The one-year part-time course consists of 3 modules; the successful completion of all modules will result in the Postgraduate Certificate in Primary Mental Health Care.

    Culture Process & Change in Primary Mental Health Care

    This module critically explores relevant history, policy and legislation in mental health and primary mental health care. Students also explore the roles of different relevant agencies, statutory and non-statutory in mental health care provision together with issues relating to diversity, gender and ethnicity.

    The nature and functions of organisations are explored together with the effectiveness of these services, including measurement tools, audit etc. Students also explore aspects of research and produce a research proposal as part of the assessment process.

    Core Knowledge & Skills in Primary Mental Health Care

    This module provides training in core communication, assessment and engagement skills. Students gain skills training in evidence-based interventions such as facilitated self-help; problem solving; behavioural activation & goal setting. They receive training in the collaborative skills required to facilitate medication management and concordance. The students also critically evaluate the contribution of evidence-based models of clinical supervision and the impact of this on their own clinical competence.

    Evidence Based Psychological Interventions in Primary Mental Health

    This module builds on the skills acquired by the students from the above module. It allows more in-depth exploration of short-term evidence-based psychological interventions utilising Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy and Brief Solution-Focussed Therapy techniques. Sessions are built-in to the module allowing case presentations of on-going clinical work in order for the students to gain peer and tutor feedback on face-to-face clinical interventions with patients, which will in turn be incorporated into the written assignment.


    Modules are assessed by a combination of written critical analysis, videotaped role play and completed skills workbooks.

    Each module has a credit rating of 20 at Masters level, the 3 modules accrue 60 credits in order to achieve the Postgraduate Certificate in Primary Mental Health Care.

    Students attend John Moores University for one academic year, completing module ASLGWM006 in Semester 1 & ASLGWM007 in Semester 2; ASLGWM005 is a year-long module. Semester 1 commences with a 2-week study block followed by 13 study days (weekly). Semester 2 commences with a 1-week study block followed by 14 study days (weekly) in University.

    Students therefore attend university one day per week but also receive one day per week-supervised practice, while functioning as a graduate primary mental health worker the remaining three days per week.

    As well as academic support from the Programme Leader and the Module Leaders

    Students are allocated a workplace mentor and a clinical supervisor who takes responsibility for the practice based support. Training for the Mentors/Supervisors is provided by John Moores University. Regular meetings are arranged to ensure effective communication between the practice areas and the academic institution

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