Challenges of Mental Health Placements
Clinical educators need to consider a number of factors before offering a placement in a Mental Health context. Mental Health settings vary greatly, as does the level of resources required and opportunities available for students.
- The potentially adverse impact of practice placements on consumers (Mental Health Coordinating Council, 2013, p. 21) – frequent changing between staff and students, inadequate access to immediate care required are both potential risks for consumers.
- Initial set up costs for a placement
- Lack of physical resources – community managed organisations may not have the physical desk space, clinical rooms or computers often required for supervision sessions, student research and documentation.
- Lack of staff time available
- Student skill level and personal issues (Mental Health Coordinating Council, 2013, p. 21) - the student may not yet have the communication skills required to build trusting relationships with consumers or understand the broader context including social, economic and cultural determinants on the consumer’s experience. The student may have personal beliefs regarding mental health stigma that impact on their ability to provide ‘client-centred’ assessment and intervention techniques.
- Inadequate student preparation
- Training costs – for educators and students
- Clinical educators can find the prospect of ensuring students develop awareness of specific Mental Health models of practice and appropriate communication skills daunting.
- Disruption to current work practices
- Low engagement with Universities and other Mental Health organisations around practice placements – potentially isolating the student, clinical educator and even the organisation that is hosting the placement.
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.