The Approved Mental Health Professional role was developed by the 2007 Mental Act amendment. Prior to this the role was known as Approved Social Worker or ASW. The amendment to the Act broadened who could undertake the role beyond social workers to other registered Mental Health Professionals such as Nurses and Occupational Therapists who underwent specific training.
The Approved Mental Health Professional is authorised by the local authority and they practice for them, even though they may be employed by a Trust or another local authority.
They provide a broad range of tasks under the Mental Health Act. What is important is that they are a counter balance to the medical model that can exist in mental health and bring a social or more holistic perspective.
Their work involves working with relatives and carers, making sure service users are properly interviewed in an appropriate manner and ensuring they know what their rights are if they are detained under the Mental Health Act 1983.
The Approved Mental Health Professional is also “the applicant” in the majority of Mental Health Act applications.
The Approved Mental Health Professional has the responsibility to co-ordinate an assessment and demonstrates the principles of the Mental Health Act e.g. the least restrictive principle and the participation principle. They need to ensure the person is appropriately interviewed and if admitted to hospital that they are conveyed there in the most humane and dignified manner.
The Approved Mental Health Professional role is quite different to that of the Responsible Clinician during a Mental Health Act Assessment. They need to consider all the factors present to ensure that the least restrictive principles are applied. They need to ensure the person is aware of their rights, treated with respect and dignity and has access to an advocate.