History Mental Health Social Work

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Select an area of Social Work that interests you. Provide an investigation into the ways social workers practice in this are in England and compare it briefly to practice in another area of your choice.

Social Work in Mental Health has often been associated with the power to compulsory detain people for admission to Mental Health institutions. This relationship and the role of Mental Health Social Workers has changed overtime, as government policy and wider social influences have impacted on the profession. The effect has been an evolution in the role, setting, training and regulation of Mental Health Social Workers. The policy agendas that gave rise to this can be broadly compared to similar movements in Mental Health provision in the United States. Prior to the creation of the National Health Service in 1948 Mental Health in the UK was seen as a threat to public health and the emphasis was placed on containing the threat of Lunacy through the detention of people with Mental Health problems, rather than medical intervention (Pilgrim and Ramon, 2009). To this day “the power to constrain, without trial those posing a putative future risk is only found in Mental Health services and in statutes to pre-empt terrorism (Pilgrim and Ramon, 2009, p. 274). Social Work in Mental Health has often played a key role in the process of compulsory admission to Mental Health institutions. Mental Health Social Work started as a profession in the 1920’s with the emergence on Psychiatric Social Workers (PSWs). They were represented by the professional body the Association of Psychiatric Social Workers, founded in 1929 which was instrumental in training and also kept a register of qualified PSWs. Their training was heavily influenced by Psychodynamic theory as well as psychosocial theories of Mental Health. The 1959 Mental Health Act resulted in the creation of Mental Welfare Officers (MWOs) who gained responsibilities for the application of compulsory civil admissions, which had previously been held by magistrates. (Rapaport, 2005). PSWs and MWOs remained as the two types of Mental Health Social Work role until the Seebohm Report (1968) which led to a move towards generic Social Service and a move away from specialism in Social Work roles. Its three core suggestions were that: 1. the current model of diverse and specialist services led to poor coordination and an inability to respond in a timely and efficient manor to evolving needs; 2. a single point of contact for those in need was viewed as philisophicaly preferential; 3. Services should be universally available and a single point of contact would reduce the stigma for those wishing to access services (Wilson et al., 2008). The 1970 Local Authority Social Services Act led to the creation of generic Social Services departments under Local Authorities and by 1974 all Social Work contracts had been transferred from NHS to these Local Authorities (Gould, 2010, p52). In 1970 The Association of Psychiatric Social Workers was amalgamated with several other Social Work professional bodies to create the British Association of Social Workers (BASW). The professional register the APSW had previously maintained was abandoned and in 1971 all Social Work training was overseen by the Central Council of Qualification in Social Work (CCETSW). Many Social Workers found this generic training insufficient for the specialised, statutory duties they had to undertake as part of Local Authority teems (Rapaport, 2005). The 1983 Mental Health Act was bought in to resolve problems with the 1959 Mental Health Act that had reaffirmed the legality to detain people with Mental Health problems for hospital admission, but had not specified whether these powers included the ability to treat those admitted without an individual’s consent. In the original 1959 act compulsory admission required either a recommendation from two medical professionals, one in an emergency, or an application to hospital management...
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