Mental health professionals fears about new bill

Government attempts to reassure approved social workers that
they will still be needed once proposals in the draft mental health
bill come into force are failing.

Delegates said ASWs were leaving their jobs in droves to enter
other careers amid fears that they would become redundant once the
role of the mental health practitioner was established.

But head of mental health legislation at the Department of
Health, Adrian Sieff, insisted that local authorities would remain
responsible for providing mental health practitioners.

“The government’s view is that social work is
absolutely core to this,” Sieff said. “It is key to
moving forward with mental health practitioners. But we do want to
open up the role to others too.”

Rethink chief executive Cliff Prior said the long-awaited
revised bill should be renamed the “mental failure
bill” and warned that mental health was in danger of falling
off the government agenda.

Meanwhile, Joanna Bennett, workforce development manager for the
Breaking the Circles of Fear project at the Sainsbury Centre for
Mental Health, said that cultural awareness training would not help
make mental health services more appropriate for service users from
ethnic minorities.

“Knowing about what people eat, their normal diet and hair
care products, or providing curry or rice and peas is not going to
change the experience of black people in mental health
services,” said Bennett, whose brother David
“Rocky” Bennett died in 1998 after being restrained by
at least three mental health nurses at the Norvic Clinic in

“When people are in hospital they couldn’t care less
about what they are eating or what is on the wall. What they want
is the right treatment, respect and humanity,” she said.

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