469 social workers responded to the online survey, from across England. The poll data provides valuable insight into the challenges facing the profession today, including highlighting frustrations with the provision of support available to people with mental health problems.
Some of the feedback from social workers about support for people with mental health problems included:
“Reducing support for someone with mental health difficulties is very unhelpful. In essence, it usually has a negative impact on any progression that individual might achieve in terms of their wellbeing and personal development, hence producing a revolving door syndrome which I have personally seen in practice. There really is no such thing any more as a person-centred approach.”
The report also said:
It must also be very disturbing for social workers to be able to see what adults with mental health problems, disabled adults or older people need, but be wholly unable to provide it. The responses to the survey point to the need for a debate within the profession about how to navigate the grey area between ‘empowering’ people by requiring them to take more responsibility for themselves on the one hand, and hurting people by taking away more support than is humane and they can cope with, on the other. However, this discussion is frankly eclipsed by the spectre of so many professionals and managers in the social care system seemingly struggling against the odds to keep some semblance of decent care and support going for the population in their areas.
In response to the report Paul Spencer, Policy and Campaigns Manager at Mind, said:
“We welcome this report which provides an important insight into the experience of social workers today. It is hugely concerning to see so many of them don’t feel able to provide for the people they support, including those with mental health problems. Social workers do a challenging job day in, day out and this report is an important tool for us to understand what needs to be done so they can do their job and support and empower people to live fulfilling lives.”