3.2 Benefits of interdisciplinary and multi-agency working
There are many benefits to having different disciplines of professionals who are specialists in children’s mental health.
Each discipline will have skills and knowledge about how their discipline can help improve the mental health of the children they are working with. For example:
- A psychiatrist will know if medication is appropriate (for most childhood conditions medication is only reserved for a selected number of conditions that are severe and enduring) and is applicable to prescribe.
- An educational psychologist will have the skills and knowledge to be able to assess children’s behaviour and will be able to work with educators and parents to implement a plan (often referred to as an Individual Education Plan/IEP) that helps them to understand and manage their behaviour.
When another agency is involved, this can bring in further skills and knowledge.
Educators – for example, a practitioner in an early childhood setting – are likely to know a child very well because they spend a lot of time together. Practitioners work with children in an environment that is familiar to them; they will be able to give a different perspective about the child’s behaviour. They are likely to know the parents or carers and are likely to have knowledge of the family, and possibly a positive working relationship with them, all of which may be useful in planning the treatment of the child’s mental health.