A Good Day Teaching In Mental Health

Today was a great day. I was teaching the Care Programme Approach and Clinical Risk to a varied group of mental health professionals. Driving home I thought about what had made the day so good for me. I knew I had been teaching well, that I had remembered everything I needed to include and that I had trained with a passion for the subjects and with a commitment to being a clinician. But more than this the group had responded to me, and the way that I taught, in a very positive way. This made me wonder if, as teachers, we are only as good as the group we are teaching. Yes, as educators we are responsible for creating a positive learning environment with appropriately designed and delivered course content. We need to facilitate learning and when this works well we join with the group to construct together the required knowledge. But, on some days those that we teach are just not up for it, or their anxieties or scepticism block their ability to be truly open to learning. When we have groups like this, we work hard to teach as best we can, to shift negative attitudes and to lift tired spirits. But, no matter what we do as teachers some of the responsibility for the effectiveness of the training session will always be with the students. This is not to blame them, it is just how it is.

Today’s group were responsive, not scared to ask questions and to have a debate. They were genuinely moved when I showed a DVD of service users talking about risk assessment and management and I could see that it would impact on their clinical practice. Today, as a group, we got back to the fundamental reasons that we are clinicians, the real purpose of the Care Programme Approach and risk assessments and risk management – to make a difference to service users.

Today my colleagues allowed me to steer them through their learning, they were open to working with me, and with each other. We created a synergy as a group and this made for great learning. It also made it one of those day when I know I’m in the right job.