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6 October 2021

The Role of CAPS in Community Mental Health Transformation

In December 2020, ELFT announced a pioneering new initiative working closely with local Higher Education Institutions to develop a new Apprenticeship in Psychology, working with people with complex mental health problems.

In December 2020, East London NHS Foundation Trust (ELFT) announced a pioneering new initiative working closely with local Higher Education Institutions to develop a new Apprenticeship in Psychology, working with people with complex mental health problems.  

The Clinical Associate in Psychology (CAP) Apprenticeships started in East London ELFT in January 2021, with the first cohort of 17 trainee CAPs appointed to work in community mental health transformation. Apprentices have been working within our mental health services while receiving regular supervision and training from qualified psychologists, with two days a week spent at university. 

Why do we need a new role?
There is an exciting shift taking place within health and social care, with the Community Mental Health Transformation Programme, which is radically changing the way services are designed and delivered to support individuals with severe mental health problems in need of care, support and/or treatment. 

The CAPS are working with partner organisations and within the local communities to help people make the changes they need to get more out of life. 

A CAP apprenticeship offers psychology graduates a way into the profession, allowing them to receive a salary whilst training and studying for an MSc Clinical Associate in Psychology. As a local employer, it is also a fantastic opportunity for ELFT to open up apprenticeships to our local communities where many of these graduates may live. 

Two of our CAPs, Rehana Shaikh and Aminah Cheema, are working across various services within the Trust including the Disordered Eating and Complex Emotional Needs Pathways of the ELFT Community Mental Health Transformation Programme, specialist services, and assessment and brief treatment functions within our Community Mental Health Teams (CMHTs).  

They have been working in close partnership with community organisations such as the Bangladeshi Mental Health Forum (BMHF) to strengthen relationships while supporting clinical psychologists in delivering much needed virtual support to the local community through webinars due to the ongoing pandemic.   

Here they describe their experiences within the role and share what they hope to achieve during their time with ELFT:  

Operations director of the BMHF, Shamsur Choudhury has welcomed the opportunity to work closely with the CAPs.  

“They have supported us with facilitating specialist workshops to talk about different elements of mental health affecting the local Bangladeshi community,” he said. 

“Having access to such mental health professionals in training has been great as they have been very accessible. Since they are community focussed, and being from the same community background also makes a big difference, as they understand cultural and religious perspectives.” 

The BMHF is a grassroots mental health charity that works to promote mental health wellbeing in the community through a variety of ways, including awareness events, workshops (online and face to face), training local residents to become community mental health champions, holding information and advice sessions within the community setting and facilitating wellbeing groups. 

The Bangladeshi community face many barriers to accessing mental health services, and many people from Bangladeshi backgrounds often don’t reach out for help from NHS services. Barriers such as lack of language-specific and culturally appropriate access to mental health professionals, support not available closer to home, community stigma, lack of family support and simply not understanding mental health difficulties can all contribute to this group is often being overlooked. 

Providing access to the ELFT CAPs brings us one step closer to more appropriately and effectively supporting people with mental health problems within our Bangladeshi community in Tower Hamlets, while also helping to increase knowledge, skills, awareness and cultural competence among our own ELFT staff.  

For more information about the BMHF please visit: