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September 2020

“Improving the nation’s mental health has to be a top political priority” – Think Ahead’s Chief Executive writes for PoliticsHome

Think Ahead’s Chief Executive Ella Joseph has written an opinion piece for PoliticsHome, a leading political news and commentary website. In it she discusses the mental health crisis brought on by Covid-19 and how today’s announcement of £27m of Government investment in the Think Ahead programme will contribute to tackling this crisis.

The investment will allow us to recruit up to 480 graduates and career changers to join the Think Ahead programme, and train them to become mental health social workers. The trainees will learn on the job and support at least 10,000 people with the most severe and enduring mental health conditions – including schizophrenia and eating disorders – by 2025. Find out more about this announcement. 

In her article, Ella explains that the pandemic has negatively impacted many people’s social circumstances – such as their relationships, living arrangements, and employment – which can have a huge impact on someone’s mental wellbeing. She writes: “More than any other profession, mental health social workers support people who experience severe mental health problems with just these kinds of social factors – and this is why government investment in our programme to train graduates as mental health social workers is so vital.”

Read the full article on PoliticsHome.

Ella also highlights the need for well-trained staff across other mental health professions. Our recent research showed that many people hold misconceptions about working in mental health, which can prevent them from choosing a career in this field. For example, while 93% of those expressing an opinion agree that mental health professionals get to make a real difference to the people they work with, 49% believe that you can’t train to be a mental health professional if you have personally experienced severe mental health problems.

“At Think Ahead, we work hard to highlight the rewarding nature of mental health roles and address the misconceptions that are putting people off careers in mental health,” Ella explains.

In light of the significant impact that Covid-19 is having on people’s mental health, with knock-on effects on the country as a whole, Ella urges politicians to recognise that “improving the nation’s mental health now has to be a top political priority”. She adds: “Putting social workers at the heart of our response is a vital part of strengthening the mental health workforce.”