Approved mental health professionals need bespoke qualification

Standardised qualification for social workers completing AMHP modules would help address "enormous" variation in training, says regulator.

A nationally recognised qualification should be developed for social workers and mental health professionals completing AMHP training to reduce “enormous” variations in courses, the General Social Care Council has said.


A report on inspections of 22 training courses for approved mental health professionals (AMHP) revealed that most courses are fit for purpose but “vary enormously” in the length of training, number of modules and academic credit on offer to social workers.


Currently AMHP training is undertaken within modules leading to a postgraduate diploma in mental health social work. But the variation in course provision among universities is “confusing” for social workers and mental health professionals, the GSCC said.


“We recommend the development of a nationally recognised, standardised, academic and professional award that a mental health professional must hold to be considered for appointment as an AMHP,” the report said. 


The GSCC’s inspections revealed courses varied in length from three months full-time, to two years part-time.


Most universities offered 60 academic credits for completion of AMHP modules, enough for students to “cash in” for a postgraduate certificate. But two courses offered 120 credits – meaning that social workers at those universities would receive the higher qualification of a postgraduate diploma for completing the same AMHP learning.


Of the students who have successfully completed AMHP training since its introduction in 2008, 84% were social workers, 15% nurses and less than 1% were occupational therapists. No psychologists had been recruited as AMHPs.


Social work fears that health professionals undertaking AMHP roles would fail to understand the social model of mental health or be inadequately trained in safeguarding were “unfounded”, the report said.


The GSCC transfers responsibility for AMHP training to the Health Professions Council on 31 July 2012.

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