Building on the mental health support workforce to meet service requirements

This 2020/21 project was interested in better understanding the mental health support workforce, especially those in non-registered patient facing roles without clear career pathways. 

The project deliverables were:

  • An evidence review looking at national data, policies, job descriptions and adverts (independently commissioned from The Nuffield Trust)
  • Insights from the mental health support workforce via a national survey (independently commissioned from Kings College London)
  • central resource toolkit aimed at those responsible for, or with an interest in, the mental health support workforce

Be notified of project updates and publications

Contact Project Manager Hannah Poupart or follow us on social media Twitter Facebook and LinkedIn


January 2022

NHS England Workforce, Training and Education (formally Health Education England) published the online central resource toolkit

Who are the mental health support workforce?

The mental health clinical support staff includes a variety of different roles and work with a huge range of people, services and settings – there are some 96 unique job titles in the electronic staff records and just over 41,000 full time equivalents working in mental health services! They broadly fall into three categories:

1.   Trainees who are employed as clinical support while they are seeking to become part of the qualified workforce (e.g. Trainee Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners)

2.   Roles that require advanced or further education – roles may, or may not, be registered with a professional body (e.g. Nursing Associate)

3.   Roles that usually work within defined boundaries, typically under the supervision of a registered professional (e.g. Healthcare Assistants)

This project was specifically interested in roles where there was no clear career pathway, so those who mainly fall within the third category. These typically are band 2-4, professional regulation does not exist and if they have any academic entry requirements it would not be above a level 3.

Why would you be interested in this project?

You’re responsible for workforce management of the mental health support workforce:

  • Practical top tips and resources to some of the workforce issues and recruitment gaps that you have
  • National insights to a large untapped workforce that you can benchmark your experience against
  • Opportunity to learn from what work others are doing with this workforce
  • Hear the views of the workforce themselves to better understand how you can begin or build on your workforce plans

You’re responsible at a national or regional level for mental health workforce planning:

  • An additional resource for ensuring the workforce of today and tomorrow has the right numbers, skills, values and behaviours, at the right time and in the right place

You’re part of the mental health support workforce:

  • Opportunity to have your voice heard as a collective – an overdue spotlight on your skills, experience and knowledge
  • Chance to share nationally what your goals are at work, if you are provided with the tools to achieve this and if not, what you need those responsible to hear
  • Workforce plans being closer aligned to what you want and need
  • Hear how others experience the same roles you do, nationwide 

Alert: The National Workforce Skills Development Unit has now closed

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