Interprofessional practice and education in mental health and addiction services

Collaborative practice between different health professions

What is interprofessional practice?

Interprofessional practice (IPP) is a type of collaborative practice between different health professions, such as psychologists, nurses, allied health roles, addiction practitioners, and peer support workers.

In New Zealand, IPP is defined as:

When all members of the health service delivery team participate in the team's activities and rely on one another to accomplish common goals and improve health care delivery, thus improving patient's quality experience. 
(NCIPECP, n.d)

IPP team members work interdependently to share leadership, decision-making and responsibilities across professions to meet the person’s needs. This is different from multidisciplinary models, where team members cooperate with each other to meet people’s needs but often work in ‘silos’ or ‘hierarchy’ (Körner, 2010).

Decision-making processes

Decision-making processes within interprofessional and multi-disciplinary teams in health services are as follows:

What is interprofessional education?

IPP is enhanced when it is supported by interprofessional learning experiences. (NCIPECP, n.d). 

The development of IPP is supported by interprofessional education, which “occurs when two or more professions learn about, from and with each other to enable effective collaboration and improve health outcomes” (World Health Organization, 2010, p. 13).

New Zealand tertiary education providers offering interprofessional education programs to health workers include: University of Otago, Auckland University of Technology, University of Auckland, Whitireia, WelTec and Wintec.

Interprofessional education competency and capability frameworks consist of six core themes

The existing literature and examples are largely focused on medical health settings

Thus, the next steps for mental health and addiction services is to identify:

  • Which professional roles are essential in mental health and addiction interprofessional teams?
  • What supporting factors are required to sustainably implement IPP?