The role of the child primary mental health worker
The purpose of the study was to explore how the child primary mental health worker role, as defined in the Health Advisory Service document, has been interpreted in each of the mental health trusts in England. Studies have indicated there is a deficit in recognition and treatment skills, by primary care workers, of psychological difficulties presented by children and young people, which could be supported by specialist mental health workers. A postal questionnaire was sent to 169 English mental health trusts. There were 98 returns (59%) indicating that 22 child mental health services had established this new role and a further 42 were planning to develop it in the near future. The child primary mental health workers were spending on average 35% of their time in primary care offering consultation and training to health professionals, rather than direct work with children and families. This development was found to be a growing area of advanced practice for nurses. Given the stated intention of the majority of services to develop or retain this role, further evaluation studies will be needed.