What is a Multidisciplinary Team?

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A multidisciplinary team (MDT) should consist of psychiatrists, clinical nurse specialists/community mental health nurses, psychologists, social workers, occupational therapists, medical secretaries, and sometimes other disciplines such as counsellors, drama therapists, art therapists, advocacy workers, care workers and possibly others not listed. See below table for further descriptions.

The different professions all have different areas of expertise, so that they can combine their skill sets if necessary to tackle complex and challenging mental health conditions. The MDT meets regularly to discuss their work so that each patient has a care plan best suited to their individual needs. Some details on the most common MDT members are set out below.

Some Roles and Duties Performed by Multidisciplinary Team Members

Multidisciplinary Team Member Roles and Duties Involved
Psychiatrist Perform assessments, provide talking therapies, prescribe medication, investigate for physical illnesses
Psychologist Provide specialised talking therapies, perform in-depth assessments of aspects of brain functioning and behaviour
Psychiatric Nurse Assess difficulties, provide talking therapies, administer and monitor medication
Occupational Therapist Provide skills assessments, formulate rehabilitation plan which is delivered both individually and in groups
Social Worker Provide support for families, provide talking therapies, advise in relation to housing, finance and supports

Members of the Multidisciplinary Team

Psychiatrists are doctors with a degree in medicine, who specialise in the assessment and management of mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, psychosis, personality disorders, intellectual difficulties or addictions. Psychiatrists will usually have a particular specialist interest i.e. mental health problems in children (child & adolescent psychiatrist), adults (general adult psychiatrists), older adults (old age or later life psychiatrists), addictions (addiction psychiatrist), offenders (forensic psychiatrists), patients in a general hospital (liaison psychiatrists), or people with intellectual disabilities (intellectual disability psychiatrists).Psychiatrists have expertise in the assessment of mental health problems, in the assessment of risk (i.e. of suicide or violence) and in the management of mental illness. Psychiatrists employ treatments including talking therapies, social interventions and medications in the management of mental health problems The psychiatrist works as part of a multi-disciplinary team (link) but will also be aware of a wide range of other helpful resources in the community such as peer support groups, counselling services, volunteer organisations etc. A consultant psychiatrist often functions as the leader of the multidisciplinary team, coordinating the work of psychiatric registrars and the other team members in order to provide the highest quality care for individual patients.

A psychologist working in the mental health services will have obtained a primary degree in psychology and will then have undertaken further education and specialist training in clinical or counselling psychology. Psychologists have expertise in the assessment of psychological functioning (i.e. personality or intellectual functioning) and in the delivery of a variety of talking therapies. Talking therapies may be delivered on an individual or group basis.

There are 3 basic types of nurse; general nurses, psychiatric nurses and intellectual disability nurses. Psychiatric nurses undergo a degree course in the assessment and care of people with mental health problems. Psychiatric nurses work in inpatient units, day hospitals, rehabilitation centres or in the community. Many psychiatric nurses undergo further training to become community mental health nurses or nurse practitioners, specialising in the management of particular conditions or in talking or other therapies.

Occupational therapists have a basic degree in Occupational Therapy. Occupational therapists work in the rehabilitation of patients suffering with mental illness, aiming to help recovery in occupational, social and day to day skills. They also provide specialised assessment of functioning in areas such as social skills or ability to perform everyday tasks. Where the person is found to have difficulties in any of these areas the occupational therapist will formulate a specialised programme to help.

Social workers place emphasis on the strengths and the natural coping abilities of service users and their families in their assessment of people’s needs. They act to empower service users to access the services and resources required, to recover and maintain good mental health, and achieve a good quality of life in terms of their relationships, income, leisure, occupation and accommodation.