Evaluation of the Better Access initiative component C: analysis of the allied mental health workforce supply and distribution

4. Consultation on training and the future mental health workforce

Page last updated: September 2010

This chapter investigates the impact of Better Access on the training (including clinical placements) of the mental health workforce and the implications of this for the future mental health workforce. As indicated in other chapters, separating out the effect of Better Access from that of other initiatives is difficult and this was apparent in the consultations. Not only is Better Access part of broader changes in mental health service provision, but the education and training of the mental health workforce is taking place in the context of even broader changes in population demographics, health system reforms and on changing models of care within and between health workforces.

This chapter examines the training of, interactions between, and future of the Better Access mental health workforce from the perspective of key organisations associated with each of the mental health professions. The information provided is primarily qualitative, with small quantitative components drawn from other surveys. The use of consultations for this aspect of the report provides a means of identifying issues before they become statistically apparent. The results will allow further investigation of some issues, and intervention in others, without waiting for the lag time that exists between a policy initiative and the 4-6 years (minimum) it takes to educate the next generation of the workforce.

The interview schedule (see Appendix C) focussed on investigating stakeholders perceptions of the impact of Better Access on:

  • the size, skill level and geographic distribution of the workforce with mental health skills,

  • the delivery and take-up of certified training,

  • the effectiveness of the interaction between general practice and psychology in expanding access to mental health interventions,

  • Regional Training Programs, in particular their capacity to deliver training and their uptake by registrars,

  • the capacity of training systems to provide clinical experience to undergraduate and postgraduate doctors and allied health professionals,

  • the availability of training places for increasing numbers of medical graduates and how this will interact with other relevant professions, including psychology, occupational therapy and social work, and

  • interactions between GPs and psychologists including

    • reports that GPs find the paperwork in care plans to be cumbersome and use Level D consultations instead, and

    • reports that psychologists complain that GPs are under-utilising care plans.