Britain’s Mental Health Services

If there’s one part of Britain’s health system that is regularly debated in the press and indeed between members of the public, it’s the mental health services. As public awareness and acceptance of mental health issues grows, the current state of the resources available to someone suffering from a mental health issue (chronic or acute) becomes more and more the subject of debate.

It makes it a political football, and the subject of some frustration and anger but it’s difficult to actually get hold of the both the facts, and how it feels to work in that system day to day if you’re thinking of pursuing a job with the mental health services.

Today that’s what we’re looking at: The reality behind the public arguments about mental health jobs.

Different Roles

As with every other part of the NHS, the mental health services are made up of lots of different, interlocking roles. Mental Health Nurses form the front line, spending the most time with patients so as well as their clinical expertise they need the patience and communication skills to explain the sometime opaque medication guidelines and treatment regimes to both patients and their families. Clearly understanding how to take their medication and why it’s important makes a huge difference to the success of a treatment plan so this is a vital for more than the obvious reasons.

The NHS employs both psychiatrists and psychologists, as well as other forms of therapist to help to treat mental health disorders of various kinds. They begin with the same basic doctor training that the system requires of every specialist, later choosing to enter the mental health tracks that give them the specialists knowledge and qualifications they require.

As with other doctors, those in the menta health services exist on a continuum from junior doctors, or even trainees on a rotation in the department, to consultants with decades of experience behind them.


Whichever part of the NHS you work for, resourcing will be an issue. It’s a system which simply cannot receive enough funding. In especially deprived areas of the country, stretching what’s available to provide even adequate cover can be a challenging and very demoralising. The jobs involve as much connecting patients with charities and private practitioners are providing free at the point of use help to people that need it.

That said, the growing public debate is fuelling more funding for mental health services, and this is likely to grow in the future. If it’s a role your considering this is a great time to commit, as our understanding grows and new possibilities become available!

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