By Integrated Care Journal-
The Government has allocated £27 million to mental health charity Think Ahead to expand its mental health social work graduate programme. This will enable the recruitment and training of 480 mental health social workers to support up to 10,000 people living with mental illness.
The funding will form a 'vital part' of the response to coronavirus, according to the Department of Health and Social Care.
The new recruits will be trained to provide psychological and practical support to help people with serious mental illness, such as severe depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, and address issues such as relationships, housing, and employment, all of which can have a huge bearing on mental wellbeing.
This new funding will expand the Think Ahead programme by 60 per cent, from 100 trainees each year to 160, training up to 480 new mental health social workers across England over the next three years.
Nadine Dorries, Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, said the new funding will "boost support for the most vulnerable at a time when they need it most. ” Meanwhile, Think Ahead Chief Executive, Ella Joseph, said: "the pandemic has shown us more than ever that social factors like isolation, relationships, finances and living arrangements have profound impacts on mental health," praising the "unique" role social workers have to play.
The Think Ahead programme offers talented graduates and those looking to change career a paid route into frontline mental health services, run by the NHS and Local Authorities, with training delivered on-the-job in partnership with Middlesex University.
The programme, which began in 2016, has been a huge success, and so far has recruited over 500 mental health social workers. Applications for the 2021 intake have opened today, with the selection process focusing on the motivation and skills to make a difference to vulnerable people.