Dual diagnosis development for Julie Ann
21/02/2014A mental health practitioner from the Southern Trust has developed a post-graduate course at Queen’s University to help social care staff manage patients with the ‘dual diagnosis’ of mental illness and substance abuse.
Dual diagnosis practitioner Julie Ann Gray from Portadown was involved in developing part of the Certificate in Applied Social Studies at the University’s School of Social Work. Julie Ann, along with Pauline Murnin from the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust, are two of the few designated dual diagnosis workers within Northern Ireland, with the Southern trust having developed a dual diagnosis team of three workers with adult mental health services and one practioner to cover trust wide with the Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service.
Julie Ann explains that the course originally was developed as a result of their role providing direct patient input, consultancy, liaison and training.
“We initially delivered a two day dual diagnosis awareness programme through the Clinical Education Centre. From evaluations at the Clinical Education Centre and local Mental Health Teams we decided to try to develop a more intensive programme to assist practitioners. We developed the course to address a teaching deficit in this area and to help staff in health and social care trusts and voluntary organisations to become more confident in working with this complex group of patients and clients.”
Julie Ann has direct teaching input in the three modules being offered, namely the dual diagnosis introduction, assessment and intervention, and specialist interest groups. The course is currently offered through the School of Social Work in conjunction with Nursing staff and professionals from the Addiction and Mental Health Services across Northern Ireland.
“We have managed to get quite a lot of interest in the area of dual diagnosis and the course is at full capacity, with interest from voluntary and statutory services,” continues Julie Ann. “We were able to secure five commissioned posts and hope this course will offer commissioned places from September 2014.”
Micéal Crilly, Acting Director of Mental Health and Disability Services at the Southern Trust, said: “I welcome Julie Ann’s input into the Certificate which will benefit social work and health staff across Northern Ireland. Their knowledge will better equip them to deal with dual diagnosis in their everyday working lives.
“Dual diagnosis is a significant issue in Northern Ireland and health and social care staff agree that informed and integrated services are an important step in helping patients and clients to recover. The recovery based approach which is promoted in Mental Health in the Southern Trust focuses on wellness ‘models’ rather than illness.”
Course Director Dr Anne Campbell adds: “I have been very fortunate to work with Julie Ann and Pauline who have been integral to the development of the three modules which complement the other parts of the Certificate, such as mental health, family therapy and cognitive behaviour therapy. The programme is aimed at the continuing professional development of social workers, nurses, and other addiction and mental health professionals.”
Dual Diagnosis Practitioner Julie Ann Gray (seated second from left) with students at Queen’s University