National safety priorities in mental health: a national plan for reducing harm

Appendix 6 - National Practice Standards for the Mental Health Workforce

Page last updated: October 2005

The National Practice Standards for the Mental Health Workforce were endorsed by the AHMAC National Mental Health Working Group in September 2002. They are based upon, and are designed to be used in conjunction with, the National Standards for Mental Health Services.

The National Practice Standards for the Mental Health Workforce are specifically targeted to the following professions: psychiatry, nursing, social work, psychology, and occupational therapy. They are intended to complement each of the professional groups' discipline specific practice standards or competencies, and to address the shared knowledge and skills required when working in a multi-disciplinary mental health environment.

The National Practice Standards for the Mental Health Workforce outline the knowledge, skills and attitudes required when individual members of these five professions work in a mental health service. Others involved in service provision for people with a mental illness may find these national practice standards useful, including: general practitioners, home and community care service providers, hospital staff providing acute care, and family and other carers. They also offer a strategic national framework for the education and training of the future mental health workforce and it is anticipated that they could be utilised to:

  • promote clinical best practice
  • identify appropriate skill levels and workplace training and education needs
  • guide clinical supervision, mentoring and continuing education and
  • influence the development of relevant undergraduate and postgraduate curricula.
The twelve practice standards are:
  1. Rights, responsibility, safety and privacy
  2. Consumer and carer participation
  3. Awareness of diversity
  4. Mental health problems and mental disorders
  5. Promotion and prevention
  6. Early detection and intervention
  7. Assessment, treatment, relapse prevention and support
  8. Integration and partnership
  9. Service planning, development and management
  10. Documentation and information systems
  11. Evaluation and research
  12. Ethical practice and professional responsibilities