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July 2019

Film: “You are embarking on something immensely valuable” – Rt Hon Sir Norman Lamb MP addresses the new cohort of Think Ahead participants

As the first week of Think Ahead’s 2019 Summer Institute is drawing to a close, the 106 participants in our fourth cohort will have a chance to reflect on the new knowledge and skills they have gained so far, as well as the advice they have been given in sessions with Rt Hon Sir Norman Lamb MP and Think Ahead’s Co-Chief Executive Ella Joseph.

The Summer Institute is a six-week, intensive residential learning experience at Middlesex University. The teaching, led by Middlesex’s expert team, gives the new cohort of future mental health social workers a grounding in relevant theory and interventions before they begin to learn on the job in an NHS Trust or Local Authority in September.

“Your role can literally change people’s lives.”
Rt Hon Sir Norman Lamb MP to Think Ahead participants

On day one of this year’s Summer Institute, our Co-Chief Executive Ella Joseph discussed Think Ahead’s vision – a society where everyone with mental health problems can flourish – and our values with the new intake of participants. She also explained why leadership training is an integral part of our programme: “To be a good social worker, you have to be a great leader. By this I mean you need decision-making skills, sound judgment, and to be humble and self-reflective.”

Rt Hon Sir Norman Lamb MP, who first commissioned Think Ahead as Health Minister in 2014, also addressed Think Ahead participants this week, and congratulated them on their choice of career. “You are embarking on something that’s immensely valuable and will have a real impact on people,” he said.

In his speech on Wednesday evening, Sir Norman discussed the parity between mental and physical health in England, his advocacy for mental health as an MP and as Minister of State for Care and Support between 2012 and 2015, and his personal reasons for being passionate about mental health social work. You can watch the full speech below.

Much of Sir Norman’s speech focused on the human rights of people with mental health problems. He highlighted the role our participants will be able to play – as champions of a human-rights based approach – in changing the culture in mental healthcare, in order “to shift resources away from containment to early intervention, to supporting people in the community.” He concluded: “And that is where you are so valuable because your role can literally change people’s lives.”

Sir Norman’s was one of a series of evening sessions at the Summer Institute designed to offer participants access to a range of thought leaders. Upcoming speakers include Professor David Croisdale-Appleby OBE, author of an independent review into social work education in 2014, and Claire Murdoch CBE, NHS England’s National Mental Health Director.