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September 2018

Applications to join the Think Ahead programme in 2019 now open

Update: Applications to join the Think Ahead programme in 2019 are now closed. Applications to join Think Ahead in 2020 will open in autumn 2019.

We are delighted to announce that applications to join Think Ahead in 2019 are now open.

We’re looking for talented graduates and career-changers who would like to enter a profession that’s both rewarding and challenging, and who want to support people with mental health problems to lead more fulfilling lives. On our two-year programme in mental health social work, you’ll be paid to work in an expert team alongside clinical professionals, study for a master’s degree, and develop your leadership skills.

For our next programme cycle, which starts in July 2019, we have at least 100 places available in a range of locations across England.

This is an excellent opportunity for talented individuals from any background who are passionate about creating positive change in society and want to play their part in tackling the UK’s mental health challenge.

If this sounds like you, then you can find out everything you need to know on this website.

Here are the key facts:

About the role

As a mental health social worker, you’ll empower people with a variety of mental health problems, such as depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, to address social issues in their lives – including relationships, housing, and employment.

For example, you might provide talking therapy, connect people to their communities, or stand up for people’s legal rights.

If you want to know more about what this looks like in practice, you can read the stories of experienced social workers on our About mental health social work page, or watch Maisie, a 2016 Think Ahead participant, describe her work.

About the programme

When you first start the programme, you’ll join the rest of the 2019 intake at a six-week residential Summer Institute, to prepare for front line work and get a grounding in approaches to mental health social work.

Then you spend two years learning on the job in an NHS Trust or Local Authority, while also gaining academic qualifications, including a master’s degree in social work.

Participant Amber said: “The training on the Think Ahead programme is intensive, but you learn so much and it enables you to start working directly with people with mental health problems after just a few months.”

You can find out more on our How the programme works page.

Who we’re looking for

You don’t need any previous experience in mental health or social work to join our programme. The graduates and career-changers who have joined Think Ahead so far come from a wide range of backgrounds, with undergraduate degrees ranging from psychology, sociology, and politics, to archaeology, drama, and sports science.

You can hear from some of our participants on our Who we’re looking for page. They each have different stories, but they share a commitment to making a real difference to people with mental health problems.

How to make your application stand out

We’ll assess your application against the seven Think Ahead attributes, which are crucial to becoming an excellent mental health social worker. It’s important that we can see from your application that you have each of these qualities – and it helps a lot if you can give specific examples of a time you demonstrated them. (The examples can be from any area of your life.)

It also helps to apply early, because we run assessment centres and offer places on a rolling basis during the application period. The earlier you apply, the more likely you are to be able to attend an earlier assessment centre, and to secure your place on the programme earlier.

You can find out more about eligibility criteria and the selection process, and see more tips and guidance, on our How to apply page.

We will announce the application deadline with at least two weeks’ notice. Sign up to our newsletter to be alerted.

When you’re ready, you can apply on our Opportunities page.