Developing practice in mental health settings


  • Michelle Cleary, RN, PhD.

  • Jan Horsfall, PhD.

  • Brenda Happell, RN, PhD.

Michelle Cleary, Level 1 Executive Unit, Concord Centre for Mental Health, Concord Hospital, Hospital Road, Concord, NSW 2139, Australia. Email:


If practice development (PD) is to be implemented in diverse mental health-care settings, it is important that managers, researchers, and policy makers are all clear about the nature of the processes involved. The authors draw on the literature to broadly set out local strategies, practicalities, and issues that should be considered and addressed by those planning to undertake PD projects in mental health. Before implementing PD projects, pre-existing requirements should be recognized and expedited. All aspects of who does what, when, and how should be widely communicated so that continuous evaluation and improvements are generated. Staff need to be adult learners, be aware of their practice values, be able to access supervision, and confront contradictions and tensions between values and practice. PD programmes that are effective are built into mainstream activities, considered core business, utilize existing resources to build sustainable and realistic improvements, take direction from practitioners, and incorporate client needs.