Primary Care Mental Health Practitioners in Primary Care Handbook

This is a joint working document from ICB/LSCFT/LSCTH for the MHP role in primary care.

 Primary Care Mental Health Practitioners Handbook v4


Mental Health Practitioner

Providing high quality mental health care in a less stigmatising environment at the right time, reducing adverse outcomes for those suffering from mental health problems and providing consistency of care for those individuals transitioning between services

Are you interested in improving medication safety for patients with mental illness in the community? Then Manchester University would like to hear from you! 

Manchester University are looking for patients with mental illness, carers of these patients, and community healthcare professionals to take part in a 2.5 hour online workshop which will take place via Zoom. Healthcare professionals include pharmacists (community, general practice, mental health), GPs, nurses (general practice, mental health), and community psychiatrists.

The aim of this workshop is to identify, discuss, and agree the priority areas to improve the safety of medication for patients with mental illness in the community. Discussions will be guided by data from previous research exploring the factors which contribute to medication safety issues for this patient group. By conducting this research, we hope to identify the priority areas where any changes would have the greatest impact to improve medication safety for patients with mental illness in the community.

Consensus flyer

If you have any questions or if you wish to take part please contact: [email protected]

What's happening


Community of Practice now available, to improve the early detection and support for people with eating disorders

Beat have worked in partnership with NHS England to develop an Eating Disorders Community of Practice (launching 1 Aug). Sessions are designed to follow on from the Beat and NHS England Eating disorders e-Learning, specifically our Nursing Workforce Sessions and GP & Primary Care Workforce Sessions (accessed here).Each session takes place on the first Tuesday and Thursday of each month (12:00-13:00), grouped for the nursing workforce and GP & primary care workforce. 

Choice and Medication

Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust’s Choice and Medication website provides people with information about medicines used in the mental health setting to help people make informed decisions about medication.
Use the site on your own or use it together with your family or someone you care for or your doctor, nurse or pharmacy team.

Mental Health Practitioner Role in Primary Care

Check out Vicki Jordan’s presentation on a Mental Health Practitioner Role in Primary Care below:

New Online Learning Opportunity: Mental Health Crisis Tools supporting young LGBTQIA+ people

This open access toolkit will help individuals working in health and care settings such as urgent and emergency, primary care, or mental health settings to effectively communicate and provide young LGBTQIA+ people in crisis with personalised support.  

The Crisis Tools are presented in video and text format with accompanying downloadable guides, available here: 

Individuals who engage in the learning can do so on a one-off basis or create a simple profile allowing them to save their progress and download a certificate of completion for their records. 

Maudsley Learning Courses (funded by HEE)

See below full details and booking links for:

  • Skills for health conversation
  • Eating disorders for children and young people 
  • Eating disorders for adults 
  • Advanced managing challenging situations for non-clinical staff 
  • Managing Challenging situations for non-clinical staff in clinical settings
  • Physical health care for people with severe mental illness

See dates and book here

Suicide prevention strategy

The Department of Health and Social Care has announced a new five year cross-sector strategy on suicide prevention – the first for more than ten years. It is accompanied by an action plan that lists the leads and delivery dates for each of the actions identified in the strategy. NHS England has also shared a toolkit that focuses on supporting healthcare staff within the NHS, including links to training and resources.

Join the Advanced Practice Mental Health Network  

With nearly 600 members to date HEE’s network offers a space to connect people aspiring to be, training to be or working as an advanced practitioner in mental health.  They also welcome those who support the development of the workforce including regional and national strategic leaders and MSc programme teams.  

The network compromises of a series of live virtual events and a virtual platform accessible 24/7 where members can contribute to discussions, network, access resources and connect with other members across England.  

To join the Network and book a place at the virtual events here.

If you do not have an account on our platform linked above, please complete our registration form 

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) Clinical Guidance

This guideline covers identifying, treating and managing depression in people aged 18 and over. It recommends treatments for first episodes of depression and further-line treatments, and provides advice on preventing relapse, and managing chronic depression, psychotic depression and depression with a coexisting diagnosis of personality disorder.

This guideline covers identifying and managing depression in children and young people aged 5 to 18 years. Based on the stepped-care model, it aims to improve recognition and assessment and promote effective treatments for mild and moderate to severe depression.

This guideline covers recognising and managing psychosis and schizophrenia in adults. It aims to improve care through early recognition and treatment, and by focusing on long-term recovery. It also recommends checking for coexisting health problems and providing support for family members and carers.

This guideline covers recognising, assessing and treating bipolar disorder (formerly known as manic depression) in children, young people and adults. The recommendations apply to bipolar I, bipolar II, mixed affective and rapid cycling disorders. It aims to improve access to treatment and quality of life in people with bipolar disorder.

Example Job Description

Download the example job description here.

Further resources

Positive Cardiometabolic Health Resource: An intervention framework for people experiencing psychosis and schizophrenia.

Lester Tool

See HEE’s Quality and Outcomes Framework guidance for 2022/23 here.

Reducing pressure on primary and secondary care by supporting people to address their unmet non-clinical needs.

Rethink Mental Illness – MHN Info

An engaging podcast series to enhance healthcare professionals’ understanding of perinatal mental health is now available to listen to on NHS England’s Learning Hub.

The 11 podcasts, led by ‘GP champion’ Dr Laura Davies and PMH psychiatrist Dr Laurie Windsor, cover a range of topics including postpartum psychosis, birth trauma, eating disorders and perinatal depression.

For more information and to access the podcasts, please visit the GP Spotlight Podcasts catalogue on the Learning Hub.

New resource alert! 

Welcome to the new home of Teaching and Learning Consultation Skills (TALC Skills) and Healthy English:

TALC Skills covers all aspects of consulting with a patient, whether you are a GP or another healthcare professional, and aims to make consultations more enjoyable and more efficient.

These valuable free resources can be used independently by anyone who wants to learn or improve their consultation skills – or by educators. TALC Skills is an RCGP award-winner and its popular podcast has already received more than 28,000 downloads.

Healthy English has been developed to help everyone who works with patients become a better user of English. It addresses the language and communication needs of international health and care staff, their trainers and colleagues working in the UK.

Access to both of these resources is free of charge to NHS people and organisations.

Sign up and join hundreds of other colleagues across the country who are using this trending new resource. 


Mental Health Practitioner Explained

A significant amount of time within primary care is spent on people who have mental health needs. The time that is needed to address these needs can be significant, and it is often more appropriate for the patient to see a skilled professional with training in mental health issues than other members of the team.

Mental Health Practitioner Explained

Mental health practitioners will always have their own individual skill sets and may be employed within primary care in several ways e.g.

  1. Offering urgent mental health appointments that would normally be booked with the Duty GP if they cannot wait for a routine GP appointment;
  2. Providing assessment, interventions, and support for people with mental health issues that can be managed within primary care, from initial presentation and ongoing.

The first of these models involves telephone calls to patients with mental health issues who are requesting an urgent appointment. Over the phone the practitioner assesses whether the patients’ needs to be offered a face to face appointment or whether they can be signposted to other services or resources. If necessary, the practitioner will see the patient face to face appointments to diagnose and make an initial treatment plans and refer onwards if needed.

This role provides immediate access to specialist advice / urgent help and relieves pressure on the GPs so they can focus on physical health issues.

The second model is based on ongoing support, where the mental health practitioner can offer support and interventions from the start of a mental health ‘episode’ and follow the patient through over a period of time until the immediate issue is resolved. This model appears to be more commonly used across Lancashire and South Cumbria with some GP’s appointing mental health practitioners independently and others utilising the PCN ARRS roles. There are no size fits all approach to this role as the population needs will differ dependent on geographical location, so it is very important to think about what support your population requires.

The importance of having a mental health professional (including Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) within each Primary Care Network has been recognised by including these roles within the Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme from April 2021 whereby these posts can be funded from NHS England. The exact model will be determined following several pilots that are being run across England in 2020.

These roles are still in their infancy, and further guidance is expected about the requirements for claiming reimbursement.

Training is available, but further information is expected about the training that will be required and available to practitioners over the forthcoming months.

Is there any recruitment funding available to Primary Care Networks?

This is a role that will be included in the Additional Roles Recruitment Scheme from April 2021.

Primary Care Networks may therefore be able to access funding via the CCG to cover salary and on-costs. We are expecting to receive details about core responsibilities and training requirements as well as reimbursement amounts in the coming months.

In the meantime, you can find out more about the scheme and workforce planning by contacting the GP Forward View Leads who work with the CCG’s Primary Care Team and by referring to the information in the links below:


Meet Our Team

Vicki Jordan

Mental Health Primary Care Clinical Advisor
[email protected]