Mental Health Social Work Leading Change in the NHS?
This event took place on 17th July 2015 at 10:00am (09:00 GMT)
Berrill Lecture Theatre, The Open University, Walton Hall Campus, Milton Keynes, United Kingdom
10:00 Keynote Martin Webber
Mental health social workers straddle many boundaries and often experience uncertainty and conflict in our roles as a result. We are employed in NHS Trusts or local authorities, or both. We navigate health and social care systems, but are often on the margins of both. We draw upon multiple disciplines – including psychiatry, law, psychology and social science – for our practice knowledge. And our research can be found in psychiatry journals as much as in social work ones. Well, almost. But life on the margins is not easy. We have become defined by our statutory functions (the Approved Mental Health Professional role) rather than by our therapeutic expertise. Our uniqueness comes by dint of our mastery of mental health law. However, this is not sustainable. As statutory functions can be given and taken away at will, we need to restate our intervention potential as champions of social perspectives in mental health services. This requires the adoption of epistemological paradigms beyond social work to influence NICE guidelines and to challenge the dominance of psychiatry and psychology. This keynote will explore how mental health social work intervention research is contributing to the evidence base for mental health practice and makes the case for moving away from narrow individualistic practice. Taking the example of the Connecting People Intervention, it explores how implementing evidence-informed social interventions can provide a clear role for mental health social workers going forward. We are on the cusp of seeing practice in mental health services becoming more oriented towards families, groups and communities. Mental health social workers have a significant opportunity to lead this change and improve outcomes for service users. But this will require us to cross still more boundaries and move into as yet uncharted territory.
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