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July 2020

“I think the biggest satisfaction you get working in mental health is the bond you develop with people.” – Think Ahead participant interviewed by The Guardian

Think Ahead participant Paddy Hartigan has spoken to The Guardian about his experience working as a mental health social worker, and how his job has changed throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

The article looked into the challenges that the mental health workforce is facing because of the coronavirus. Paddy, who is a qualified mental health social worker and is currently in his second year of the Think Ahead programme, explained: “For people already struggling with quite serious mental illness everything has become amplified and things are much harder.”

Paddy also talked about the difficulties caused by not being able to visit service users in their homes as regularly: “The challenge, and the negative side of that, is that I am not going into people’s homes so I don’t get to see the full picture. You can get a real sense of somebody within seconds of seeing them. People might be able to present quite well on the phone but be feeling quite unwell.”

The article also explored the challenges for the mental health workforce in recruiting new professionals – and highlighted our new research into public knowledge and perceptions of mental health careers. Our research found that many people have misconceptions about mental health jobs – such as that they are dangerous – and that people tend to over-estimate the training and experience they need to join the mental health workforce.

Read our full report

Think Ahead’s Director of Strategy, Evaluation and Communications, Matthew Brown, explained more about the research, saying: “I think one of the most encouraging things to come out of this research is that there is no shortage of people that might consider a career in mental health. But we now need to work together to bust some of the myths around working in mental health and raise the profile of some of the roles.”

Paddy also gave encouragement for anyone considering a mental health career: “I think the biggest satisfaction you get working in mental health is the bond you develop with people. I give a lot of myself to the role and when you see a genuine improvement in people and see they are able to cope with what are serious mental illnesses, that’s really rewarding.”

Read the full piece on the Guardian’s website