Mental Health Practitioner Service
What is a Mental Wellbeing Practitioner (MWP)?
MWPs are mental health professionals who are qualified to assess the needs of someone with a common mental health difficulty such as anxiety or depression. They work to identify if someone is likely to improve naturally with time, if they might benefit from a psychological treatment or whether further medical assessment and possible medication, such as antidepressants may be beneficial.
West Midlands Ambulance Service employs two MWPs as part of the occupational health support available to the workforce. Anyone within the organisation, including students and those in voluntary roles, can self-refer for advice about their mental health. The MWPs are also available to provide specialist advice to managers and other staff within the Trust on proactive ways to support their colleagues who might be experiencing mental health difficulties.
What can they do for me?
West Midlands Ambulance Service’s MWPs have worked in mental health services for many years and are experiencedCognitive Behavioural Therapists. They have a thorough understanding of what interventions and treatments the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) have identified as being clinically effective for common mental health difficulties. This means they can help you to explore your concerns and guide you towards the bestresources and treatments to help you to feel better. If work-based challenges are underlying your difficulties they can also work alongside you, your local management and HR team to explore possible solutions.
MWPs are a supplementary avenue of support, speaking with them is entirely optional and they do not replace the need tosee your GP or other NHS care provider. The service provides bookable appointments only and cannot provide urgent appointments or crisis interventions. If you have serious concerns about your mental health, or need urgent help, you should always consult your GP, 111 or local NHS mental health service without delay.
What happens in an appointment?
Most initial appointments are via telephone and take around 45 minutes. You should ensure you are somewhere where you can talk openly about personal matters and are unlikely to be disturbed. The appointment cannot go ahead if you are in a public place or driving.
You will be invited to tell us what has led you to get in touch with the service, what your main concerns are, and what you would like some assistance with. We will explore with you what has helped you to feel better before and identify what might be most helpful for you try currently.
When people are feeling low or highly anxious, it is quite common to experience some thoughts of life not being worthliving or of hurting themselves in some way. Most times those thoughts are fleeting and are not a reason for seriousconcern but as your safety is a priority, you will be asked directly about thoughts of suicide and self-harm so you can besupported in the right way as soon as possible.
Once there is a shared understanding about your difficulties, you will be given guidance on what might be the mosthelpful next step and given the information you need to move forwards with it.
What might they suggest?
Many people often think that medication and/or therapy sessions are the only options for mental health difficulties, but that is not the case. Very often people do not need that level of intensive, time-consuming treatment to achieve the resultsthey are looking for. Many people with mild to moderate symptoms can achieve the results they want by using recommended self-paced workbooks, completing online courses and by introducing evidence-based wellbeing actions into their day-to day habits. Self- paced resources are convenient, easy to access, clinically proven to be highly effective and are the least intrusive approach for people to use.
There are so many books and other resources available, identifying the best materials to start with can feel daunting. TheMWPs can help you to identify resources relevant to your needs and provide you with additional support to get the full benefit from them, should you need that.
If difficulties are more severe or persistent, you may benefit from a talking therapy approach. The MWPs will explain your options, and help you to access the treatment most suitable for you.
Is it confidential?
Yes, the information you share with the MWP service is confidential. Clinical records are stored securely and are not accessible to anyone outside of the MWP service. As this service is provided by WMAS as occupational support, it may be appropriate to confirm to your management team that you have accessed the service, however the content of anyappointments is never disclosed without your consent.
The only exceptions to this are if you disclose something that the MWPs have a professional duty to report to the police, if clinical records are requested by a court of law or if there are serious concerns about your safety or the safety or others. In that event, information may need to be shared with appropriate internal and external professionals for safeguarding purposes.
Will accessing support for my mental health affect my career?
Mental health difficulties are extremely common. Colleagues of all of ages, roles, ranks and lengths of service access the MWP service. If you are medically fit and well enough to perform your duties effectively and safely, and yourdifficulties do not cause you to be away from work for unsustainable periods of time, asking for support will not impact negatively on your career. Being pro-active about returning to good mental health is encouraged andviewed positively.
How do I access the service?
Access is via self-referral. It is advisable to talk with your management team if your difficulties are related to or impacting on your work, but this is not a requirement for accessing the MWP service.