Essay: Personal Development Plan in Mental Health and Social Care

Professional development is an essential condition of the successful and efficient work of all specialists, especially those working in the field of the mental health care. At the same time professional development cannot occur on the occasional basis, instead a carefully developed personal development plan is needed in order to clearly identify the objectives an individual wants to meet at the end of a definite period of time. Basically, the personal development plan as a constituent element and essential condition of the professional development should be well structured and include, along with clearly stated objectives the thoroughly planned ways of their achievement. On the other hand, on developing a personal development plan it is equally important to take into consideration possible difficulties an individual may face in the process of the realization of the plan. On the basis of these basic points I would attempt to develop my personal development plan in respect to my professional career.

From the beginning, it is important to underline that nowadays the creation of the personal development plan is a process where the participant has rather an active than a passive role (Munford 1997) that means that I need to focus on the areas that are the most problematic for me and which are the most important for people I am going to work with, including service users, colleagues, social workers, etc. Unquestionably, the main purpose of the personal development plan, as Armstrong defines it, is to improve performance in one’s job (1996).

This purpose is very important because, otherwise, the professional development is practically impossible since individuals that stop their professional development gradually degrade and their professional skills and abilities are getting to be poor and do not meet professional requirements at the moment. This is why I, having a training certificate in care assistance on self-sponsored, am currently on a two-year programme in Mental Health Branch. It is worthy of mention that I am very interested in this work due to my caring nature and my natural kindness of protecting and providing caring support to vulnerable people.

At the same time, I realize that my professional level is insufficient for highly professional work in this field. Obviously, I realize that personal development plan is really essential to me but it is impossible to work out the plan of my professional growth without knowedge of the current situation and basic demands a professional nurse has to meet. In this respect, I need to constantly improve my professional work, knowledge, skills and abilities, taking into consideration the recent trends in mental health care system as well as in national legislation at large.

Consequently, it is necessary to take national legislation and recent scientific researches as the basis of my professional development. First of all, it should be pointed out that the current social and health policy is based on such initiatives as National Service Framework for mental health Department of Health (1995) and the National Service Framework for older people Department of Health (2001) that define standards of the today mental health and social policies that are designed to deliver the national plan of the Government issued in September 1999.

In fact, these initiatives define the basic standards a professional working in the mental health and social services should meet. This is why these standards may be the basic objectives of my personal development plan that could provide my professional growth and let me remain up-to-date with recent trends in the field I am currently working in. To put it more precisely there are seven standards, including the promotion of the mental health, primary care and access to services, effective service for people with severe mental illness, caring about cares and preventing suicide, safe services for mental health service users.

In this respect, it is important to underline the extent to which the attitude to people with mental health problems has changed. What is meant here is the fact that nowadays mental health is more significant concept than mental illness which sounds quite discriminatory for people with mental health problems. Moreover, the mental illness conception to a certain extent contributes to the development of the negative attitude to people with mental health problems form the part of their surrounding that leads to their social exclusion and lo self-esteem. Evans and Repper (2000) underline that because of discrimination and labeling employers are reluctant to employ people with mental health problems. Moreover, according to Mind (2001) the negative attitude of society to people with mental health problems is enforced by stigma, discrimination and negative media coverage that lead to the deprived life of people with mental illness.

This is why, nowadays, it is more important to speak about mental health at large. It should be pointed out that the World Health Organization (1986) defines health as a complete physical, mental and social well-being with merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Moreover, according to the Mental Health Act (1983), national mental health policies should not be solely concerned with mental illness but address the broader issues affecting the mental health of all sectors of society. In this respect, it is worthy of underlining that NSF requires health and social services to promote mental health for all, working with individuals and communities to combat discrimination against individuals and groups with mental health problems.

In such a context, I, being a mental health professional, should help people with mental health problems to pursue life purposes and climaxes in the fulfillment of their own life purpose. Moreover, I should develop my skills and abilities to work with such people without stereotyping them and treating them as equal members of the society upbringing certain sense in their life. Also I should concentrate on the work with families and carers in order to develop normal therapeutic relationship with patients. At the same time, it is equally important to learn to deal with and educate individuals or groups about negative perception, prejudice, or stigmatization of mental illness.

In fact, I am fully conscious of the high responsibility of my work since, as Fernando (1998) stresses, nurses work within the environment in which the law has an effect upon the delivery and the outcome of their care. This is why I need to increase my knowledge and understanding of legislative processes that directly affect psychiatry and also the current mental health law as applicable to the environment in which I will practice. At the same time, it is also necessary to remember about ethical issues which are also of a paramount importance.

Practically, it means that it is necessary to make patients conscious of the fact that, in certain situations, I am obliged to share information I receive from them with other professionals, notably when it concerns directly their health. For instance, in a recent clinical placement, I witnessed the situation when a patient, whose section 3 duration had lapsed, refused medication. The duty doctor assessed the doctor after the nurse in charge had sought his opinion on the patient’s destructive behaviour. The duty doctor sanctioned the seclusion and there was continuous observation of the patient. Such example demonstrates the extent to which legal and ethical issues are intertwined.

At the same time, it is also obvious that nurses have the most frequent contact with patients. Consequently, the development of therapeutic relationship is essential and this can contribute to their healing. As I noticed from my practice, following the recommendations of Nurse and Midwife council (2004), that the behaivour and mental health of patients may improve when I, as a nurse, recognize and respect patients as individuals, obtain consent before giving treatment, maintain confidentiality, cooperate with the team and when I am trustworthy.

At the same time, my professional competence is also of paramount importance. Obviously, to improve my professional level I need to further learn talking therapy, restraint and control, and breakaway technique. Also my drug calculations must be error free since errors here are unacceptable. Basically, I suppose to promote my competence by utilizing learning aids available at the university and by taking a cue for good practice as demonstrate by senior colleagues and mentors.

Finally, I am going to work in multi-ethnic community. This is why I need to develop my knowledge concerning ethnic peculiarities and socio-cultural issues typical for such a diverse community. On the other hand, the work in such a community makes the close cooperation with social workers particularly important.

Thus, in conclusion, I should say that I clearly realize the necessity of my further professional development which should be based on the profound knowledge and understanding of the current legislation as well as the necessity to develop my social and communicative skills. Also, I need to constantly promote my professional competence in order to eliminate the possibility of any errors in my work. This is why I need to keep learning and progress in accordance with the basic demands and goals I need to meet as a professional working in the mental health service.


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15. WHO(1986) (online) accessed 25 Dec. 2006.

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