National practice standards for the mental health workforce 2013

Part 2: Values and attitudes

Page last updated: November 2013

Values and attitudes inform the way that mental health services are delivered and received. Individual practitioners have their own personal beliefs and values; however, there are specific values on which all workers are expected to base their practice. These values are a declaration of what the mental health workforce holds to be important principles and what individuals strive to practice each day. Mental health practitioners are expected to understand, reflect on and use their own values and beliefs in a positive way at work.

The following values and attitudes underpin how mental health practitioners apply skills and knowledge when working with people, families, carers and communities.



All people have the right to be heard and treated with dignity and respect, have their privacy protected, and have their documentation treated in a confidential manner. Mental health practitioners respect the person, their family and carers, their experience, their values, beliefs and culture. They also respect diversity among people, families, carers, colleagues and communities, in areas including class, gender, culture, religion, spirituality, disability, age, power, status and sexual orientation.


Concern for the welfare of others guides the work of mental health practitioners. They strive to uphold the human rights of people, families and carers, including full and effective participation and inclusion in society. Mental health practitioners support the individual, and others (including children) who may be affected by the illness of a family member.


Mental health practitioners support and uphold the principles of recovery-oriented mental health practice articulated in the National Standards for Mental Health Services 2010.

Working in partnership

Mental health practitioners foster positive professional and authentic relationships with people, families, carers, colleagues, peers and wider community networks. Safe and professional boundaries are maintained. Mental health practitioners work constructively to resolve tensions that may arise between partners in care. The professional diversity that can exist within teams is respected and valued and there is always endeavour to work in positive and collaborative ways that support multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary practice. Mental health practitioners believe that quality service provision is enhanced and underpinned by effective working relationships within the service, with partner agencies and communities.


Mental health practitioners are committed to excellence in service delivery, and also to personal development and learning. This is supported through reflective practice, ongoing professional development and lifelong learning. Top of page


Attitudes are an established way of thinking or feeling that are typically reflected in a person’s behaviour, for example, a positive attitude towards employing people with a disability. Attitudes involve the interaction of beliefs, feelings and values, and a disposition to act in particular ways. Our attitudes help us to define how situations are seen, as well as define what is expected in behaviour towards a situation, person or object.

In working with people, carers and families, mental health practitioners are expected to be:

  • respectful
  • compassionate, caring and empathic
  • ethical, professional and responsible
  • positive, encouraging and hopeful
  • open-minded
  • self-aware
  • culturally aware
  • collaborative