Skip to content

Opportunities for mental health employers

We’re proud partners of Think Ahead.

Claire Murdoch CBE, NHS England’s National Mental Health Director and Chief Executive of CNWL NHS Foundation Trust

Think Ahead is a charity that partners with NHS Trusts and Local Authorities to strengthen their mental health teams. Our programme, funded by the Department of Health and Social Care, supplies a service provider with talented recruits, gives them and existing staff advanced training in social interventions, and supports the organisation to integrate these approaches across their services.

There are no fees, and we pay each partner organisation up to £36k (depending on their location and the number of participants they take) to support their workforce development. We have worked successfully with more than 60% of England’s NHS Mental Health Trusts, and 30% of Local Authorities.

Why partner with Think Ahead?

Receive talented new staff

The Think Ahead programme is one of the most competitive graduate schemes in the country, attracting high-potential individuals who are committed to supporting vulnerable people.

  • Think Ahead is one of The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers.
  • 27 candidates apply for each place on the programme.
  • Minimum eligibility criteria include a 2:1 degree.
  • We use a three-stage selection process involving social workers and service users.

Upskill your workforce

Both the new recruits and the existing staff who become their Consultant Social Workers get advanced training to improve service effectiveness.

The participants and the Consultant Social Workers get:

  • Tools to improve outcomes for mental health service users.
  • A focus on long-term recovery, including interventions at the individual, family, and community levels.
  • Training in social interventions such as Motivational Interviewing, systemic family approaches, and the Connecting People intervention.
  • Leadership tools to develop skills in relationship-building and influencing.

The participants also get a Postgraduate Diploma and a master’s degree in social work practice from Middlesex University, and excellent preparation for AMHP training.

The Consultant Social Workers also get a Postgraduate Certificate in Advanced Social Work from Middlesex University, and Practice Educator Stages 1 and 2 qualifications.

Support service improvement

The Think Ahead units act as catalysts for maximising the contribution of social work to your services, and being part of the Think Ahead network puts you at the forefront of best practice. In fact, 89% of our partner services say that partnering with Think Ahead has had a broader positive impact on the organisation, beyond our participants’ direct practice. (Find out more in our Impact Update.)

“Think Ahead has completely reaffirmed the positive impact social work can have on the delivery of specialist mental health services […] the enthusiasm and talent of the participants has raised the profile of social work across the organisation.” – Dr Lynn Prendergast, Associate Director for Social Care, Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust.


You can find out more about how partnering with us works in our partnership brochure:

Download our partnership brochure

If you’d like to talk about partnering, we’d love to hear from you. You can email our Head of Partnerships, Roxanne Timmis, on