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“Being supported in the community can help to remove the stigma around mental illness” – Think Ahead participant Thea writes in the Independent

Think Ahead participant Thea Radburn has written in the Independent’s comment section, Independent Voices, about the importance of social approaches in treating mental illness, and what her job as a mental health social worker involves in practice.

Thea, who started the Think Ahead programme in 2016, says that while therapies, medication and inpatient care can be useful, it’s crucial for a person’s long-term recovery to address their social circumstances, such as relationships, housing, employment and finances.

She writes that as a social worker, she “was trained to look not just at the individual, but at the importance of the people and communities around them.”

This approach is not just beneficial for the individual, but also serves to combat stigma and misconceptions. “Being supported in the community can help to remove the stigma around mental illness by showing that people who experience mental health problems can thrive and are valuable members of society,” Thea adds.

Read the full article on the Independent’s website.

Thea describes how she supported a man, who was diagnosed with depression and was having thoughts of suicide after he separated from his wife. Thea was able to help him to regain his confidence and sense of identity.

“Mental health social workers have the opportunity to build long term relationships with people, giving us an opportunity to develop trust and provide truly personalised care and recovery goals,” Thea says.

“Over time I hope that mental health social workers will have more visibility as we have a unique role in empowering people with mental health problems to lead independent and fulfilling lives.”