Benefits of Mental Health Placements
There is a broad range of benefits of having student placements within the mental health setting. There are benefits for all stakeholders, including the consumer, clinical educator, student, the organisation and the mental health sector as a whole.
For the consumer
- An alternative, fresh approach to service delivery
- An opportunity to contribute to the teaching of the future workforce, molding their skills to meet the needs of other consumers (Mental Health Coordinating Council, 2013, p. 17).
Dr. Cathy Kezelman describes the benefits of students participating in Practice Placement in Community Managed Organisations from a consumer's perspective.
For the clinical educator
- Improve their professional skills beyond that of a clinician into the realms of educator and mentor.
- The satisfaction of knowing they have contributed to the future of theirs and other professions in mental health (Queensland Occupational Fieldwork Collaborative, 2008).
- Their contribution has the potential to increase the number of health professionals choosing to work in mental health in the future (Queensland Occupational Fieldwork Collaborative,2008).
- Involvement of students in mental health clinical placements ensures graduates have practical experience in relevant core mental health skills (Queensland Occupational Fieldwork Collaborative,2008).
Wendy Szatkowski describes the benefits of students participating in Practice Placement in Mental Health settings from a Clinical Educator's perspective
For the student
- The reliance on interprofessional practice to enable recovery and engaging consumers in their own care pathways within the mental health setting provides the student with foundations for high level service provision in their future practice.
- Demystifies ‘the Mental Health Patient’ by exposing students to consumer based practice and the lived experience, reducing stigmas that could otherwise be carried through into their own practice.
- Because of the shift in mental health services and delivery from primarily medical management to a more community minded approach, the student learns to promote recovery, considering the person in their context and the broader social issues (Pepin, 2013, p. 275). Learning such a holistic skill set early in their career is a huge advantage for students to take with them to their future workplaces.
- Improves self-awareness for the student so they continue maintaining and improving a high standard of service delivery in various settings throughout their career.
Jamie Williams describes her experience of participating in a Mental Health student placement
For the organisation
- Recruitment: The student’s suitability for future employment can potentially be assessed, and when recent students are employed, they can often ‘hit the ground running’.
- Productivity: Students contribute to the workload of the CMO (Community Managed Organisation). They have the time and drive to commit to the development of new initiatives that staff may not have had time to do within their busy workload.
- Staff skills: In order to supervise students, staff are required to update their research, education and supervision skills.
- Diversity: Students contribute to diversity within the workplace and are often enthusiastic, dynamic and very motivated to perform.
- Partnerships: Mutually beneficial relationships with HEPs (Higher Education Providers) are established which have the potential to grow beyond the practice placement focus.
- Accreditation: Some accreditation standards include items such as “service agreements and partnerships” and “community and professional capacity building”. Practice placements contribute to evidence indicating that the CMO is meeting these standards.
(Mental Health Coordinating Council, 2013, p.18)
When discussing a recent project promoting practice placements in Community Managed Organisations, Professor Lindy McAllister lists the range of benefits for organisations who choose to host student placements in this setting.
Mental Health Coordinating Council (2013). Scoping Report: Mental Health Workforce Professional Entry Practice Placements in the NSW Community Managed Mental Health Sector – a NSW Pilot Study. MHCC, Sydney.
Pepin, G. (2013). Working in Mental Health. In Stagnitti, K., Schoo, A. & Welch, D. (Eds). Clinical and Fieldwork Placement in the Health Professions (2nd ed.)(pp.95-127). South Melbourne: Oxford University Press.
Queensland Occupational Therapy Fieldwork Collaborative (2008). What’s in it for me? Queensland Occupational Therapy Fieldwork Collaborative Website.