Mental Health Clinician Experiences in Family Focused Training and Implementation

The 2018 International Mental Health Conference is almost upon us again, this year the conference will be held over the 8th – 10th August at the RACV Royal Pines on the Gold Coast, Queensland.

This annual conference is now in its 19th year and continues to be the pinnacle event in the mental health industry. The Conference provides an invaluable opportunity to build relationships and to share knowledge, research and latest policies.

Ms Hanien Karibi, Mental Health Clinician, Occupational Therapist at NSW Health joins us at the conference to discuss ‘Mental Health Clinician Experiences in Family Focused Training and Implementation’.


Over one million Australian children live with a parent with a mental illness. They have significantly poorer mental and physical health outcomes than their peers, leading to intergenerational cycles of mental illness, poverty, housing instability, relationship difficulties, low education and unemployment. Mental health services can address this cycle through evidence-based, family-focused interventions aiming to minimise the risks associated with parental mental illness.

‘Let’s Talk about children’ (LT) is one such intervention. It has been shown to improve parenting competence, self-efficacy, family functioning, children’s emotional symptoms and prosocial behaviour. However, it is not routinely implemented in clinical practice and reasons for this are poorly understood. An e-learning module is the standard training for LT, but this appears insufficient. To address this issue, a face-to-face version of the training has been developed but whether this improves clinician confidence and uptake is not yet known. This study aimed to explore mental health clinicians’ experiences in implementing LT following face-to-face training.

Semi-structured interviews were conducted with ten clinicians from five community adult mental health teams. Data was transcribed verbatim, coded and thematically analysed.

Findings indicate that face-to-face training is more engaging and supports clinicians to develop the skills to deliver LT. However, this enhanced training format is still not sufficient for clinicians to routinely implement LT with families who would benefit. Other barriers include time and workload pressures, and access to families. Some strategies are suggested to address these issues.

These findings support the need for face-to-face rather than online training and highlight the importance of understanding and addressing barriers to implementing evidence-based practices. Taking such an approach will support clinicians to routinely include the needs of children as part of a family-focused approach to recovery. Further research, including longitudinal studies are required to explore whether this approach improves children’s long-term health outcomes.


Hanien Karibi is a new graduate occupational therapist working in an adult, community mental health setting in Sydney Australia. She has recently achieved First Class Honours in her thesis, a qualitative research project exploring the face-to-face version of the ‘Let’s Talk about children’ training and its implementation in adult mental health practice. Growing up as a child of a parent with a mental illness, Hanien is motivated by her own lived experience and challenges to expand on her clinical knowledge and create change for mental health consumers and their families.

For further information on the upcoming 19th International Mental Health Conference and to secure your spot please visit

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