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What Does ESC Stand for in Mental Health?

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In the mental health field, the term ESC stands for Essential Shared Capabilities. They are a set of ten guidelines for mental health professionals. They aim to help staff work in a way that is respectful, ethical, and focuses on the needs of patients. They are important because they represent a commitment to providing high-quality, patient-centered care.

So, what are the 10 ESCs? Let's take a closer look:

  1. Working in partnership
  2. Respecting diversity
  3. Practising ethically
  4. Challenging inequality
  5. Promoting recovery
  6. Identifying people’s needs and strengths
  7. Providing service user-centered care
  8. Making a difference
  9. Promoting safety and positive risk-taking
  10. Personal development and learning

The Essential Shared Capabilities were developed by a collaboration between the Department of Health in Scotland, the Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health, the National Institute for Mental Health in England and the NHS University

The 10 ESCs represent a beacon of hope in the world of mental health. They are a call to action, a reminder of the values and principles that should guide all mental health professionals. These skills are not just a list of sterile concepts, they are a vivid expression of the attitudes, behaviors, expectations, and relationships that should define the way mental health services are commissioned, planned, and delivered.

The aim of the 10 ESCs is to set out the shared capabilities that all staff working in mental health services should achieve as best practice. By embracing these skills, mental health professionals can help ensure that service users and carers are aware of what to expect from them and their services.

But, the impact of the 10 ESCs extends far beyond the realm of mental health services. In Scotland, these skills remain critical in the context of wider mental health policy, legislative, and service development. They support the delivery of:

  • The quality ambition of person-centeredness that is central to Scotland’s health policy
  • "Rights, Relationships, and Recovery: The report of the national review of mental health nursing in Scotland"
  • The focus on recovery and personalization in Scotland’s mental health and social care policy and service developments
  • Scotland’s human rights-based mental health legislation
  • "Realizing Potential" - the action plan for allied health professionals in mental health in Scotland
  • The National Framework for Pre-registration Mental Health Nursing Programs in Scotland.

Whether you're new to mental health work or an experienced professional, this learning resource is designed to be stimulating, engaging, and accessible. The learning outcomes for each module are written to reflect Level 8 of the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework, with a focus on practical applications and reflective practice. The content is designed to inspire you to unleash your inner champion and embody the 10 ESCs. And, for those who seek to delve deeper, each module includes links to further learning.

William H. McDaniel, MD

Dr. Robert H. Shmerling is the former clinical chief of the division of rheumatology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), and is a current member of the corresponding faculty in medicine at Harvard Medical School.

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