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October 2019

“I believe social workers have a huge and beneficial impact on the lives of people with mental health problems”

Think Ahead is marking this year’s World Mental Health Day by sharing the stories of two budding social workers, who joined the Think Ahead programme this year, and are passionate about addressing the UK’s mental health challenge.

Mo Rahman and Hannah Morris have already joined hundreds of their fellow Think Ahead participants out in the community, and are now working to support people with mental health problems.

Mo’s story

Mo, who studied psychology at the University of Derby as a mature student, gave up a lucrative career working as an export broker for UPS to pursue mental health social work with Think Ahead.

He said: “The corporate world just didn’t motivate me. I wanted to have an impact on people’s lives for the better and to make a difference in a tangible way.

“I was attracted to social work as I believe social workers have a huge and beneficial impact on the lives of people with mental health problems.

“I chose the Think Ahead programme as it gave me the chance to have the maximum positive impact, by working in the community from the start.”

Hannah’s story

Hannah, a mother-of-two who studied Social Policy and Criminology at the University of Sheffield, decided to join Think Ahead after her experiences volunteering while studying.

She spent time working with two organisations that provide support for women and children who have experienced domestic abuse, prostitution, substance abuse problems and child exploitation.

“The more work I did volunteering, the more people I came across with mental health issues,” she said.

“That made me really motivated to work in this area, because I could see what an impact mental health issues can have, so I decided to apply to the Think Ahead programme.

“Social workers don’t come in and tell service users what’s best for them – they go in and work with them, advocate on their behalf and listen to their wishes.

“It means being able to build up a bigger picture of the issues someone faces and focus on their priorities.”

To find out more about Mo and Hannah, visit our Meet our Participants section.

About World Mental Health Day

The World Federation for Mental Health, who created World Mental Health Day with the aim of promoting mental health advocacy and educating the public on the subject, first observed it in 1992.

Since 1994, each year the day has been themed to raise awareness around a specific issue, with suicide prevention this year’s area of focus.

Suicidal thoughts and self-harming behaviour are just some of the mental health problems that social workers help to address.

Think Ahead’s Co-Chief Executives Ella Joseph and Natalie Acton set up the charity five years ago to give talented people the inspiration, training, and support to make a difference in mental health services.

Since then, Think Ahead has begun training over 400 mental health social workers, and has worked with over half of NHS Trusts and a third of Local Authorities in England.

Natalie Acton, Co-Chief Executive of Think Ahead, said: “World Mental Health Day is an important opportunity to recognise the vital role that mental health social workers play in supporting people with severe and enduring mental health problems.

“All throughout the year, social workers provide crucial support to the people they’re working with, by helping them to address social issues – things like relationships, finances and housing – that have profound effects on mental wellbeing.

“Every year we’re impressed by the drive and motivation of the people who choose to train as mental health social workers on our programme – on World Mental Health Day we’re pleased to shine a light on their passion for, and dedication to, helping people get well and stay well.”

Applications to join the Think Ahead programme in 2020 are currently open. Read more about the programme and how to apply