Adopt social model to deal with mental health

Parliamentarians and social workers are jointly calling on the government and NHS trusts to promote the social model of health within new mental health legislation.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Social Work and the British Association of Social Workers (BASW), have made nine recommendations to the government and co-developed a new inquiry – Social Workers and a New Mental Health Act, in response to the Independent Review of the Mental health Act 1983.

The inquiry analyses the integration of health and social care and how the role of social workers can be enhanced in new legislation, in order to uphold the human rights of children and adults suffering ill mental health.

The report also highlights the decline in the number of multi-disciplinary teams across the country with fewer local authorities and health providers working together. The APPG believes the government needs to investigate this decline, promote best practice and encourage greater cooperative working.

Alex Cunningham, chair of the committee, said: “The recommendations in the report affect people across the country - and could have a positive impact on their lives and those of their families. Simple things like funding to visit relatives placed away from home could make a tremendous difference."

Dr Ruth Allen, CEO of the BASW, added: “Social workers are key to integrated mental health services and often provide the social support that is most meaningful to service users and families. They promote human rights and justice for service users and tackle social barriers to wellbeing such as lack of employment and housing.  As the majority of Approved Mental Health Professionals, they protect rights and make decisions about psychiatric detention or less restrictive alternatives.  Legislators should take this opportunity to emphasise social workers’ roles and potential in new legislation and guidance."

Another key recommendation is that a social worker should review patients every six months (after the initial six-month period), while all children being cared for in hospitals under the Mental Health Act should receive regular formal reviews of their needs

Currently, after an initial six-month review, individuals’ cases are required to be reviewed only once a year and not necessarily by an appropriately trained professional; nor is there any specific duty to review the needs of children placed in hospitals under the Mental Health Act.

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