AMHPs stressed out and want to quit
More than 40 per cent of Approved Mental Health Professionals (AMHPs) are so stressed out they reach the threshold for common mental health problems such as depression and anxiety, according to research by the King’s College London.
The National AMHP Survey 2012 found one third of respondents did not want to continue practising as AMHPs or were unsure if they wanted to continue practising. Just nine out of 504 respondents encountered no difficulties in their role in the previous three month period.
AMHPs were working unpaid extra hours and were tired as a result. A lack of resources often led to delays and late working but a lack of beds was the most problematic issue faced by AMHPs. Respondents felt undervalued, received little recognition and were poorly paid in comparison to other professionals involved in Mental Health assessments and for their levels of responsibility.
“Furthermore they reported the role was poorly understood and unsupported, evidenced by inadequate management, opposition, and a lack of opportunity for formal supervision and debriefing,” the report said.
“Respondents often reported that they felt vulnerable due to frequent lone working and isolation, exposure to violence and aggression and being singled out for blame following incidents. It was clear that respondents expended high levels of emotional labour co-ordinating complex assessments and containing service users and their families while they waited for other professionals and agencies to offer the necessary resources and support,” it added.
The report concludes that although statutory work is rewarding, it is stressful, demanding and complex and bed shortages are placing AMHPs under further pressures. Social workers are predominantly taking on the role of AMHP and while the government may have committed to training other professionals to do the job, many trusts have not.
The report calls for increased acknowledgement of and support for AMHPs through improved workload weighting processes, better management, improved pay and working conditions and promotion of the AMHP role.