Expanding and enhancing the role of the mental health social worker

There are approximately 4,200 social workers (3,100 work in mental health and learning disability trusts), employed by the NHS, together with a larger number of local authority-employed staff working in partnership and based within the NHS.

In mental health, social workers often undertake intensive post-qualifying training to hold roles linked to the Mental Health Act 1983, such as Approved Mental Health Professional (AMHP), Best Interest Assessor and Non-Medical Approved/Responsible Clinician (AC/RC).

Social workers comprise 95 per cent of the 3,900 Approved Mental Health Professional (AMHPs), but less than five of the non-medical approved clinicians come from a social work background.

The New Roles Task and Finish Group recommended the inclusion of social workers as a core part of HEE’s mental health workforce plan as a key lever to achieving Long Term Plan ambitions and to alleviate workforce pressure. We are also exploring the possibility of expanding this workforce using Higher Education Institute pathways and fast-track models in specialist roles.

Mental health social work in the NHS – short films

HEE is creating a series of films to promote awareness and understanding of the crucial role that mental health social workers play in health and care systems.

This film, the first of its kind, includes a variety of voices from different areas of social work, including community work, approved mental health professionals, the family group conferencing approach and the social work consultant role highlighting how patients, service users and families benefit from their contribution to the NHS.


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