MH14.2013 Identify potential mental health needs and related issues


This standard covers the initial identification of mental health needs and related issues in order to refer on to the appropriate service. Mental health needs could include physical health needs and health inequalities related to mental health needs. The person with potential mental health needs must be allowed to involve other people or persons of their choosing in the referral process as they wish.

This standard applies to people who identify and act on indications of mental health needs as part of their wider job role. This includes those working in areas such as primary health care, accident and emergency departments, social services, criminal justice, housing and other areas where people with mental health needs are likely to present themselves.

Users of this standard will need to ensure that practice reflects up to date information and policies.

Version No 2

Knowledge and Understanding

You will need to know and understand:
  1. the current national legislation, guidelines and local policies and protocols which affect your work practice
  2. the importance of keeping full and accurate records, and how to do so
  3. the importance of providing full and accurate information, and how to do so
  4. the agency’s policy and procedures regarding confidentiality of information and the disclosure of information to third parties, and the specific circumstances under which disclosure may be made
  5. how to communicate effectively in the appropriate medium to meet any recipients needs and preferences
  6. the importance of monitoring the situation regarding a person’s mental health and how to do so
  7. how to assess and manage the risk to people, to self and to others
  8. the importance of regularly reviewing risk assessments
  9. organisational requirements and policies relevant to risk assessments
  10. the range of different mental health needs and their impact on physical, behavioural, emotional and psychological wellbeing
  11. the individual service user’s strengths, resources and aspirations as well as their needs and difficulties in coming to a balanced assessment
  12. how to evaluate information provided by the person or from other sources for indications of their mental health needs and strengths
  13. ways of keeping your knowledge about mental health and indications of mental health needs up to date
  14. how to gather the required information in order to make a reasoned judgement about an person’s mental health needs and strengths, including the use of evidence based tools
  15. how to access specialist advice or assistance when required
  16. mental health and related services, and the policies and procedures for referring individuals to them
  17. the range of actions you can take when people may have mental health needs and/or related issues, and how to decide what action is appropriate
  18. sources of information on mental health and related services
  19. the services which can be accessed by people in your locality who have specific mental health requirements including the eligibility criteria
  20. how to plan and facilitate referrals to mental health and/or related services
  21. how to assess the required degree of urgency when referring people to services

Performance Criteria

You must be able to do the following:
  1. regularly update your knowledge about the range of mental health needs and the possible indications of these
  2. explore situations sufficiently to allow you to make a reasonable judgement about whether people have mental health needs
  3. identify a person’s strengths, resources and aspirations, and understand their importance in coming to a balanced assessment
  4. identify and recognise the importance of the person’s ethnicity and socio-cultural context in relation to mental health needs
  5. obtain specialist advice or assistance where you are unable to make a reasonable judgement about whether people have mental health needs and require referral
  6. respond promptly to any indications of mental health needs in order act upon the opportunity for intervention
  7. involve the person and those people of their choosing in the referral process ensuring an open and empowering approach
  8. assess any immediate risk to the person and to others which may result from mental health and/or related issues in accordance with legislation and organisational policy and procedures
  9. take prompt action appropriate to your assessment of risk in line with legal and organisational requirements
  10. record situations and actions taken in line with organisational requirements
  11. provide information about situations and actions taken only to those entitled to have it in accordance with legal and organisational requirements

Additional Information

This National Occupational Standard was developed by Skills for Health.

This standard links with the following dimension within the NHS Knowledge and Skills Framework (October 2004):

Dimension: HWB2 Assessment and care planning to meet people’s health and wellbeing needs
MH14.2013 Identify potential mental health needs and related issues
Final version approved March 2013 © copyright Skills For Health
For competence management tools visit tools.skillsforhealth.org.uk