Today, a Teach First-style programme to attract top graduates considering a career change into social work has been launched by the Government.
The initiative aims to attract 80 to 100 recruits into mental health roles to improve the support available in this field. The Government hopes to change the common perception that social work is not a high-status career choice: in 2011/12 less than 10% of the intake to social work Master’s degrees came from the Russell Group of universities.
Those on the scheme will take on frontline roles almost immediately as part of the two-year programme, Think Ahead, for which candidates will need at least a 2.1 degree.
Frances Turner, a Cambridge graduate who is currently a senior social worker in mental health services, said that she couldn’t have chosen a more fulfilling career than social work. She said: “It’s a privilege to spend my days supporting an incredible variety of people in all sorts of ways, instead of sitting behind a desk.”
She added that social work came with a range of “incredibly positive and unique” qualities that many graduates might not necessarily be aware of when they are choosing a career. “People should be aware of how much of an intellectual challenge social work is. There is maybe still a view of social workers as people who go around and drink tea and listen, when it’s actually a profession that involves a lot of thought, whether that’s about the legal framework, whether it’s analysing information about a lot of cases or approaching problems at a more strategic level.”
The programme’s chief executive, Ella Joseph, added: “We’re looking for people with a rare blend of attributes including intelligence, but – as importantly – empathy, compassion, and resilience. If you can demonstrate those qualities, we’ll support you to get a master’s degree while you train and work in a fulfilling, paid role.”
One in four people are now likely to experience a mental health problem during their lives, while a third of families include someone with a mental illness.
Mental health is now one of the most common reasons for visits to GPs, with growing additional strain not just on mental health services, but on hospitals and other parts of the NHS, due to the problems of physical ill-health that arise from mental health issues.
Read the full news item via the BBC website