One of the key roles social work has to play is in offering a counterbalance to the medical system that dominates the world of mental health care. In this piece, a social work locum makes the case for the social model of mental health to be put on an equal footing with medical approaches to care.
Approved Mental Health Professionals, or AMHPs for short, coordinate the Mental Health Act assessment process. It is a role that is undertaken by mostly social workers, although occupational therapists, nurses and psychologists can also train up as AMHPs. In recent years, the AMHP role has become even more challenging as demand for Mental Health Act assessments has risen but resources – notably beds and alternatives to hospital admission – have been cut back. In this article, the enormous skill (and the enormous stress) of AMHP work are clear for all to see.
Many social workers in mental health services work in community mental health teams. These teams coordinate care and community support for people with mental illnesses, linking them into local resources and supporting their recovery. Last year, Channel 4’s Bedlam documentary featured the work of Jim Thurkle, a CMHT social worker. In this article we asked Jim a bit about his role and what it was like letting the cameras in to film his work.
Forensic social workers support people who have committed crimes whilst mentally unwell, often the offences can be of a violent or sexual nature. In this article, we spent time with social workers to find out more about this vital, but rarely seen, corner of mental health support.
Linked a bit to point one, is the fact that social workers have been making ground in promoting the development of the profession in their NHS organisations. In this piece, Phil Wilshere, social work lead at Avon and Wiltshire Partnership Trust, talks about the development of the trust’s first social work strategy. Another key document to look at is The College of Social Work’s ‘role of the social worker in mental health services’ report. Written by Ruth Allen, chair of The College’s mental health faculty, it puts forward a roadmap for social work’s role in the sector. It’s an important report and one social workers hope can make a real impact on the thinking of directors and commissioners in NHS trusts, local authorities and beyond.