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“Social issues can have a massive impact on a person’s mental health and recovery” – Think Ahead mental health social workers speak to Community Care

A Think Ahead participant and a Consultant Social Worker have told Community Care, a leading social work news website, why social approaches are so important in mental health care.

As a Consultant Social Worker at the London Borough of Bexley, Nicola Shawyer manages a unit of four participants on their first year of the programme.

Jan McIntosh, who joined the Think Ahead programme in 2017, first worked as a head hunter for banks in the City, but decided to pursue a career in social work when he was working with young people with learning disabilities. Jan said: “I think social work really spoke to me because it’s fluid; you can get involved in lots of different parts of a person’s life and provide a lot of support.”

Read the full article on the Community Care website.

Jan is now training and working at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, where he supports people with mental health problems in their recovery.

“I ask them how things have been and what issues they are having and how we might be able to support them to improve certain elements. For example, talking about housing or income, getting back into work and reducing social isolation.

“Social issues can have a massive impact on a person’s mental health and recovery […] By working with people to resolve some of these issues, we can allow them to move on to deal with some other problems they might be having.”

Nicola says that social workers have an impact beyond the people they work with: “I think the role that we do can really benefit individuals and then that, ultimately, has an impact on the communities those people live in.

“We work with some of the most marginalised people in society and I hope we give them a voice […] it’s our job to support and empower them and work in partnership with them to ensure that they can achieve what they are capable of achieving.”