Sustaining Staff Who Support
The Irish Mental Health Service has undergone significant transformation in recent decades, with A Vision for Change, the national policy on mental health, outlining a multidisciplinary approach facilitated through local Community Mental Health Teams (CMHTs). Despite this emphasis on teamworking, there has been little formal direction around teamworking and team functioning within CMHTs and there is no recognition of the complexities that often arise within groups of people. International research reiterates the importance of positive teamworking when providing a health service; that is that an awareness of group dynamics, and an ability to address any difficulties can enhance team functioning. This study examined the group dynamics that arise within CMHTs to determine the impact that this has on team functioning. This was done through an interpretive phenomenological approach whereby ten CMHT professionals were interviewed using a semi-structured format that focused on their attitudes and experiences of working in their multidisciplinary teams. The findings demonstrated that interprofessional group dynamics were a consistent feature of CMHTs. The Consultant Psychiatrist is usually viewed as nominal lead of individual CMHTs, which had a direct impact on team functioning. This impact on team functioning was exacerbated by unclear lines of governance, with many CMHT members reporting to line managers external to the team. Specific further study is needed to develop this research on a national level, which would include research with teams where a Team Coordinator has been appointed.
Key Words: Community Mental Health Teams; Leadership; Groups; Teamwork; Interdisciplinary; Governance
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