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Year : 2004  |  Volume : 17  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 204-212

Principles for Development of Multi-Disciplinary, Mental Health Learning Modules for Undergraduate, Postgraduate and Continuing Education

Centre for Mental Health Studies, School of Medical Practice and Population Health, University of Newcastle, Australia

Correspondence Address:
Michael Tarren-Sweeney
Centre for Mental Health Studies, University of Newcastle, Callaghan, NSW, 2308
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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Background: People experiencing mental health problems have greater contact with health and welfare professionals in generalist settings than with specialist mental health services. Yet the capacity for generalist professionals to respond effectively to mental health problems is often compromised by inadequate mental health training. The Discipline of Psychiatry at the University of Newcastle developed a series of CDRom mental health learning modules for professionals working in non-mental health settings. The paper describes the principles that guided the development of a series and how those principles were applied. Development principles: The following development principles were adopted. The series should: (i) have a multi-disciplinary application; (ii) be adaptable for presentation in multiple educational domains; (iii) be accessible for rural and remote practitioners; (iv) combine structured solutions-focused lessons (directed learning) with elements of problem-based learning; (v) include working problems that are authentic and relevant; and (vi) describe normal, abnormal and cross-cultural manifestations of problems. Application of principles: The model guided the development of a short course series on professional engagement with people who have personality problems. The learning modules provide generic, multi-disciplinary training for a range of practitioners, including nurses, primary care physicians, social workers, psychologists and magistrates. The modules have been adapted for use in undergraduate medical education, postgraduate programs (in population health, nursing, psychology and drug and alcohol studies) and continuing education. Conclusion: In contrast to traditional diagnostic-focussed psychiatry training, the model directly addresses the mental health training needs of health and welfare professionals using a multi-disciplinary, problem-based approach.

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