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Mental Health Practice
Mental Health Practice

Press Release - 13 July 2005

New course helping kick start a career in caring

Local people are finding it easier to start a career in caring, thanks to a course that began at the University of Bath last year.

The first group of twelve students will receive their Postgraduate Certificate in Mental Health Practice this month, and the course has already helped some of the students find jobs in their chosen career.

Lyn Latchem, a former fitness instructor from Radstock, decided to sign up for the course last year because she wanted to make a difference in people’s lives.

After enrolling on the course, she began volunteering for one of the local assertive outreach teams which provide intensive support for the severely mentally ill people who find it difficult to use more traditional services.

Three months later, she was able to get her first paid caring job as a Mental Health Practitioner working on one of the acute patient wards at Barrow Hospital, near Bristol.

She says the career change has been “incredibly rewarding”, and that the course has been instrumental in helping her find a job in the area she wanted to work in.

“Mental health is an incredibly fascinating and rewarding area to work in,” said Lyn, who previously studied for a degree in psychology at the University as a mature student.

“You get the chance to help people and make a real difference to their every day lives.

“The work on the ward is wide ranging and everyday brings a new situation and challenge"

The course is designed to help those who work with people with mental health needs to provide more care services in a variety of settings.

This means that following the course, for example, receptionists in doctors’ surgeries, volunteers with mental health services and non-medical staff in hospitals can play a greater role in helping people with mental health problems.

People graduating from the course are benefiting from a re-structuring of mental health care brought about by the Mental Health National Service Framework. This includes moving care services away from traditional hospital-based services to more community-based services.

“We are seeing a growing demand for people with the kinds of skills we help develop on the course in the mental health services,“ said Gina Smith, a consultant nurse who runs the programme in the University’s School for Health.

“We help people develop the skills and understanding they need to play an important role in helping people deal with mental health issues.”

“This involves working with ward managers and team leaders to agree what skills are needed, then working with our students to develop their capability to deliver the service required.”

“The course has been particularly useful in helping me think about the career path I want to follow and allowing me to develop the skills I need to get there,” said Lyn.

“The tutors are fantastically supportive and provide an excellent learning environment that allows you to reflect the issues, training and skills involved in mental health practice.”

The course has been supported by the Avon, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire Workforce Development Confederation which has funded the students through their studies.

The University also offers a diploma and MSc in Mental Health Practice, open to graduates of the certificate course and to experienced mental health workers who may register directly for the diploma, providing they can demonstrate adequate learning and experience.

People interested in finding out more about the course should contact Gina Smith on 01225 383653.

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