The community mental heath team are there to help those who are suffering from mental health problems. The first port of call for anyone who thinks that they are suffering from some kind of mental health problem is your doctor who will be able to recommend the right sort of help.
The community mental health team consists of a number of professionals who are trained in their specific areas and can include psychiatrists, psychologists, occupational therapists, social workers, and of course the community psychiatric nurse or CPN. Some specific problems or issues that can arise in addition to existing mental health problems or which can exacerbate or trigger mental health problems and which might need extra consideration include:
o Financial problems
o Physical disabilities
o Housing issues
o Divorce or relationship problems
o Childcare issues
Certain kinds of mental health problems may result in different needs and may therefore require some specialist help to deal with and these can include:
o Elderly depression and dementia
o Child or Teen depression
o Postnatal depression
o Bipolar disorder
Obviously, finding one person fully qualified and skilled in all of these areas just isn’t possible so the community mental health team work together in order to ensure that the best advice and support is available as many of the professionals involved will be trained in specialist areas that allow them to offer a better service to people suffering from specific problems. So who is likely to be involved in the community mental health team?
Patients can be referred to a psychiatrist by their doctor. After an initial assessment, the psychiatrist will recommend a suitable course of treatment and medication. If a mental health problem is particularly severe then they are also able to recommend that the individual be detained in hospital for a period of time. However, this is a last resort and also requires the approval of another doctor and a social worker who all agree that this is the best option for an individual concerned either for the individual’s safety or for the safety of others.
Psychologists have an understanding of human behaviour, emotions and how the mind works and although they cannot prescribe medication they can offer various types of psychological therapies. Patients can be referred to them by the doctor or other members of the community health team.
The Key Worker
People suffering from mental health problems will usually be assigned a key worker, which can be anyone in the community mental health team. The key worker ensures that the individual gets the right kind of help that they need. They will regularly assess the progress of an individual and report back to the rest of the team.
Community Psychiatric Nurse or CPN
The key worker will often be a CPN who will usually make regular visits to people with mental health problems in their own homes. They offer an important lifeline for people who are feeling isolated and alone with their mental health problems or who are experiencing particular difficulties. They are aware of the many issues surrounding mental health and can listen as well as help people talk through their problems in a setting in which they feel comfortable.
The CPN will liaise with and work closely with other members of the team to make sure that any practical support and assistance is offered when needed. They monitor medication, make sure the individual knows how to take their medication and they also look out for additional symptoms or side effects of that medication. The family and loved ones of a person suffering from mental health problems often need additional support in order to understand mental illness and to be able to cope with it, the CPN can offer practical advice and guidance.
Occupational therapists help individuals to cope with practical issues on a day to day basis in areas such as dressing, toileting and feeding themselves and can help individuals regain some control of their lives.
Social workers can ensure that an individual gets access to various social services that will improve their quality of life and that they may be entitled to such as home help, respite care and perhaps admission to day or residential centres. They can also offer assistance in dealing with housing needs, financial difficulties or other social problems.
The best care
Many other people can be involved in the community mental health team including various support workers, therapists, counsellors, and of course loved ones. Together they all make sure that the individual suffering from mental illness gets the best care possible. Each team member can make a valuable contribution to the individual’s quality of life and can help them not only to cope with their illness on a day to day basis but to regain control over their lives and integrate with the rest of the community in a positive and productive way.