Assessing risk: professional perspectives on work involving mental health and child care services
AbstractThe assessment of risk is central to work with families where parental mental health needs and child care concerns coexist. This article reports on the findings of three interprofessional focus groups which examined professionals' experiences of working with such families. Specialisation and differing thresholds and codes were identified as factors which contributed to difficulties for practitioners and families and scepticism was expressed concerning the feasibility of a key worker system for this group. The issue of psychiatric diagnosis evoked ambivalent responses and was both valued as offering direction for planning interventions and seen as a means of labelling and excluding individuals from services. The focus group participants were aware that assessing risk placed families under considerable pressure, but practitioners themselves also appeared to experience an emphasis on risk as restrictive.