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March 2020

“We need to make the case for the unique role that social workers can play” – Think Ahead’s Co-Chief Executive speaks to social work magazine

Think Ahead’s Co-Chief Executive Ella Joseph has been featured in the latest edition of Professional Social Work, a magazine run by the British Association of Social Workers.

In the article, Ella highlights the potential for social work to play an increasingly important role in mental health, while explaining that its value is still sometimes overlooked. In this context, she outlines some of Think Ahead’s priorities for the decade that has just started – including promoting the role of social work in mental health services and helping social workers support other mental health professionals to adopt social approaches in their work.

“Many of the factors that are key to helping people get well and stay well are social in nature,” Ella says. “So it makes sense that social interventions should be the focus of energy in community mental health services.”

Social workers support people to address a wide range of life issues, such as relationships, living arrangements and employment. To do this, they use a range of skills and knowledge in areas such as relationship-building, talking therapy, advocacy and standing up for people’s rights, and the law.

Another of Think Ahead’s priorities, Ella explains, is to raise public awareness of the role of mental health social work. She also highlights that there needs to be a shift in societal attitudes towards more severe mental illnesses – such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and personality disorders – which are still frequently stigmatised.

Ella says: “Working closely with newly qualified social workers, I am regularly moved by stories of how social interventions have changed people’s lives. Our ambition for social work this decade should be to strengthen and empower the profession. […] To do this we need to continue to make the case for the unique, social role that social workers can play.”

Read the full article as it appeared in Professional Social Work magazine.