Fast-track mental health social work scheme opens for applications

Students on the Think Ahead programme will be taught by academics from the University of York and the University of Central Lancashire

Photo: (posed by models) Monkey Business/Rex Features
Photo: (posed by models) Monkey Business/Rex Features

Applications for the mental health social work fast-track scheme Think Ahead are now open.

A maximum of 100 places are available and applicants must hold at least a 2:1 undergraduate degree, as well as demonstrable attributes such as resilience and empathy.

The Think Ahead programme was announced by government in 2014 and aims to recruit ‘high calibre’ graduates into mental health social work.

Successful candidates will undertake intensive on-the-job training over a two year period to gain a postgraduate diploma and master’s degree in social work.

‘Clear outcomes’

The University of York will be the awarding body for qualifications gained by participants and will lead on the delivery of the academic curriculum, which is focused on international best practice in mental health and social work. York has also partnered with the University of Central Lancashire to teach Think Ahead students.

Community Care understands the curriculum has been developed through consultation with more than 23 organisations including The College of Social Work, BASW, and the Royal College of Psychiatrists, as well as direct input from users of mental health services and social workers.

The curriculum will include interventions focused on three levels: individuals, families, and groups and communities. These interventions are being assessed to ensure they have an effective evidence base and can demonstrate clear outcomes.

‘Immediate difference’

Professor Martin Webber, the University of York’s lead academic on Think Ahead, said he was delighted to be partnering with the programme to develop mental health social workers.

“We will provide participants with cutting-edge knowledge and skills, drawing on the best evidence from around the world, to equip them to hit the ground running and make an immediate difference,” he said.

How the Think Ahead programme will work

Think Ahead students will begin the training scheme with an intensive, 30 day residential learning programme that takes place in summer 2016.

The ‘summer institute’ will be held at Devonshire Hall in Leeds and aims to prepare the first cohort for frontline work by teaching a grounding in approaches to mental health social work.

The curriculum will include teaching, exercises and participatory sessions, and will be delivered in part by people with lived experience of mental ill-health.

Year one

In year one, each student will work in a unit of four Think Ahead participants. The units will be led by a consultant social worker with extensive experience in mental health social work. The consultant social workers will act as managers for students in their first year.

The role of the unit will be to work on cases assigned to a multi-disciplinary community mental health team that supports adults with mental illness. The unit will take shared responsibility for the care of individuals it works with.

Students will also spend time working in a child and family social work team, undertake periods of academic study and attend leadership sessions.

At the end of the year, participants will gain a postgraduate diploma in social work.

Year two

Students will spend the second year of the course working as a qualified social worker in a mental health setting – either with a host NHS Trust or local authority. This will be participants’ Assessed and Supported Year in Employment.

Students will also continue academic study and leadership development to achieve a master’s degree in social work at the end of the year.

4 Responses to Fast-track mental health social work scheme opens for applications

  1. Saba Teckle September 2, 2015 at 3:14 pm #

    I completed my under graduate degree in 2013 with a 2;2 in Deaf Studies and Social Policy. I would like to do the course on the Mental Health Social Work Scheme, if given the opportunity.

    • Rachel Carter September 3, 2015 at 9:40 am #

      Hi Saba,

      Holding a 2:1 undergraduate degree is one of the key requirements of the scheme. My understanding is that applicants who do not meet this requirement will only be considered in exceptional circumstances.

      This is what the Think Ahead website says:

      The Think Ahead programme is academically demanding, and we do not normally consider applications from people who do not have or achieve a 2:1 undergraduate degree.

      In exceptional mitigating circumstances, such as severe illness having coincided with your final examinations, we may consider applicants without a 2:1 degree who can demonstrate an equivalent academic ability through other qualifications or experiences.

      The programme is designed for people who have not already studied social work at undergraduate level.

      Hope this is helpful.
      Rachel
      (Journalist – Community Care)

  2. Chrissie September 3, 2015 at 9:29 am #

    It says in the article

    applicants must hold at least a 2:1 undergraduate degree,

  3. Michelle September 3, 2015 at 9:36 am #

    Hope the course covers mental capacity legislation as well as mental health law……