One in three families now includes someone with a mental health problem, deeply affecting both their own lives and the wider family. But support services are under threat with budget cuts and staff shortages.
The Think Ahead programme aims to recruit 300 graduates to work with nurses and psychiatrists in 20017/18 as part of a strategy to address staffing issues. Trainees will receive specialist training, supporting individuals and families with mental health problems and will qualify as mental health social workers a year earlier than normal. Over 2300 people applied for the first 100 places and successful applicants will begin their training in July.
Mental health minister Alistair Burt said mental health social work is highly skilled, complex work and the funding would mean thousands of people would be helped to lead more independent and fulfilling lives.
"This is a great initiative to attract the brightest and best into the profession," he said.
“Our £10 million funding will spark rewarding careers and mean thousands of people are better supported to lead more independent and fulfilling lives.”
Natalie Acton, Think Ahead’s Joint Chief Executive, said today: “Today’s announcement is fantastic news as it means we can treble the number of talented individuals training as mental health social workers through Think Ahead. I really encourage any graduate with the right blend of empathy, intelligence, resilience, and commitment to apply to Think Ahead this autumn.”
Sarah Carr, who chairs the National Service User Network, said: "Support from a social worker with the right skills and expertise can be transformational for people living with mental health problems.
"The programme gives graduates the skills to empower the individuals they work with - so that they can manage their mental health, stand up for their rights, and find their own paths towards personal recovery."