MPs and social workers have called on the Government to recognise the role of social factors when treating people with mental illnesses.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Social Work has published a new report into the integration of health and social care, and how the role of social workers can be enhanced in new legislation.
Co-written with the British Association of Social Workers (BASW), the report urges Whitehall to address the social determinants of mental illness alongside the biological and psychological causes.
The report, entitled Social Workers and a New Mental Health Act, argues that social workers are key to effective mental health treatment because they promote social connections with vulnerable adults that can help improve the patient’s quality of life.
‘Social workers are key to integrated mental health services and often provide the social support that is most meaningful to service users and families,’ said BASW CEO, Dr Ruth Allen.
‘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,’ Dr Allen added.
‘Legislators should take this opportunity to emphasise social workers’ roles and potential in new legislation and guidance.’
The report also highlighted the decline in the number of multi-disciplinary teams across the country with fewer local authorities and health providers working together and called on the Government to investigate.
Care Quality Commission should also be mandated, the report says, to provide an annual report to Parliament on the progress of health and social care integration in trusts as well as between children’s services and children’s mental health services.