Mental health support workers: Profession and professionalization – 2017-10

The mental health services in Aotearoa New Zealand, have changed significantly since the late 1990s. Community services have expanded, and the role of the mental health support worker has developed and grown to be a significant presence in the mental health and disability workforce. Despite this, the role is minimally discussed, both in Aotearoa New Zealand, and internationally. In December 2014, Auckland University of Technology (AUT) hosted a panel presentation and discussion at the then Department of Psychotherapy & Counselling Forum. This article coalesces the contributions of the presenters at this panel discussion. Consideration is given to the development of the role and education of support workers, the environment in which they work, and the contemporary mental health support work workforce. Two examples of professionalization, with regard to different forms of registration, contribute to the discussion. A tentative conclusion is made that support workers, their employers, and the people they support would all benefit through some form of professionalization, standardization, and recognition.

Keith Tudor, Caril Cowan, Julia Hennessy, Ian MacEwan & Rob Warriner
International Journal of Mental Health, 23 Oct 2017