Skills for Care

How Skills for Care is supporting mental health social workers and AMHPs

24 Feb 2020

  • Social work

Karen Morse, National Lead for Mental Health at Skills for Care, shares her thoughts in the lead up to two highly anticipated events this week that focus on mental health social work leadership, and shares our exciting plans for a new section of the website for social workers and Approved Mental Health Professionals (AMHPs).

Conferences in London and Leeds this week will showcase some exciting initiatives around New Roles in Mental Health Social Work, and Skills for Care is excited to be one of several organisations that are represented within the group.

The title of this work – New Roles – has, it’s fair to say, led to some quizzical looks. Social work is hardly a ‘new’ role (and nor are some of the other seven roles within this Health Education-led initiative, such as nurses and psychologists). There are no proposals to introduce roles to replicate or supplement the social work role. However, there is change in the air, and we’re paying some overdue attention to existing roles in a shifting environment and depicting how social work is being transformed in integrated settings.

Recognition that integrated systems will be needed to meet growing needs and complexity in mental health is reflected in many workforce plans in both health and social care settings. The destination is being set out in policies, such as the Mental Health Act Review, the NHS Long Term Plan and People Plan, and the Community Mental Health Framework.

But while we know where we want to be – rapid access to high-quality support and treatment, that’s delivered close to home and in a personalised way – the journey is not always clear.

The New Roles in Mental Health Social Work group is now introducing some approaches for wider consultation in the sector. The group has drawn together some ongoing work, such as Social Work for Better Mental Health and the Approved Mental Health Professional (AMHP) Workforce Plan, and has commissioned new projects to tackle some of the challenges and consider some of the opportunities presented by integrated health and care systems.

Our new webpages for mental health social workers and AMHPs

The group is developing support for mental health social work leadership, with guidance to help leaders and managers in their provision of a service and their support of the social workers that they lead.

This will include some underlying themes, such as governance, social work identity, and diversity, particularly supporting more BAME leadership in the sector.

We’re excited to launch a new section of the Skills for Care website for mental health social workers and AMHPs at the conferences. It’ll act as the go-to place for links to the latest news, development and best practice. They’re very much a work in progress that we’ll regularly update.

Visit the webpages here.

Other resources to help

We’ll also be launching draft resources to support how social workers are recruited, retained and developed, particularly in health settings where a focus on clinical concerns might overshadow the ‘social’ bit of social work.

We’re illustrating career pathways for mental health social workers, recognising specialist progression such as human rights, AMHP roles and forensic social work. We’re including social work approaches such as trauma-informed care and open dialogue. We hope that these will help to attract more people with the right values into a career in social work, and help retain them by illustrating the opportunities for development.

We hope that these activities will also resonate with the wider adult social care workforce.

I hope that you visit the website and find it useful. Remember, we’ll upload further articles and resources over time so please bookmark it to visit later. If you want to know more about any aspect of this work, please get in touch.

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