The new president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services has pledged to raise the profile of Approved Mental Health Professionals.
In her inaugural speech, Margaret Willcox said promoting the work of AMHPs, the group of mostly social workers who coordinate Mental Health Act assessments, would be a personal priority in her year as president. She said she also wanted to confront the way mental ill health is discussed.
She said: “I have a view that in an effort to explain the world of psychiatry and create a supportive society, we have got our language mixed up again and it’s not helping. We use the term mental health when we mean mental illness or disorder.
“We strive for good mental health but despite great progress and more understanding, people with long term mental illness still die far earlier than the average adult in this country and the rate of suicide remains a serious concern.”
‘Simple and consistent’
Willcox said another of her personal priorities was to create more employment opportunities for people with disabilities, which she hopes will be achieved through work with the Department of Work and Pensions.
She warned that the social care sector was in a “precarious” position due to insufficient funding. She said the issue had never had such a high profile, and would be a “key plank” of the general election, but a “common language” around social care was needed to help build public understanding.
“Whilst social care is a daily topic of conversation in the press and on the media, there is still much confusion about what it is,” she said. “We are working with partners across all arenas to try to ensure that we describe it simply and consistently so that it is understood the way education or the NHS is.”
‘Tribute to predecessor’
Willcox also paid tribute to her predecessor Harold Bodmer, who passed away just three months into his ADASS presidency. She said the organisation would continue to push for development of the social care workforce and the quality of home care services, two areas Bodmer identified as priorities.
“As you know we have tried to honour Harold’s memory by delivering his priorities by working together as a collective,” she told the audience.
“While the circumstances we found ourselves in were both unexpected and tragic, I think we’ve made a good effort. I hope he’s happy with us.”
A minute of applause in Bodmer’s memory was held at the start of the session.