The Last of the (New) ASWs…


I finished my portfolio for my ASW course yesterday. It’s the last time the ASW course will run because the next lot in the autumn will be doing the AMHP training. And it got me thinking a little bit…

Naturally we spoke a little about the change while we were training. General consensus – that social workers are a somewhat precious lot who have little faith in nurses to remain as independent as they do in Mental Health Act Assessments and in the face of dissenting doctors! (because, realistically, nurses are likely to be the only other professionals who do train as Approved Mental Health Professionals… )

I think it depends very much on the individuals involved, of course. Some doctors can bully anyone at all, be they nurse, social worker or magistrate – just as some nurses or social workers can. Power is a massive issue though. Doctors, I think, whether they like it or not, and want it or not, have a more natural recourse to power than most professionals, due mostly to the close contact that most of us have with them (I don’t think anyone hasn’t seen a doctor!).

Generally, I’ve always thought that it will be a difficult jump from medically trained professional to AMHP, because the emphasis is considerably placed on exploring and examining the social causes and catalysts of mental ill-health. I am also more concerned about the independence, generally, of medical professionals in carrying out the role and have always felt (perhaps it’s some of that professional protectionism… I never said I had to be rational!), that the training ethos of social work adds something very different to Community Mental Health teams that isn’t present in any other discipline.

Of course, on a real level, all the work in CMHTs, certainly ones I have come across, is more or less generic and this is just further recognition of that.

Social Workers, Occupational Therapists and CPNs sit side by side and the workload doesn’t really change although I’d like to think that each professional is able to add to the whole, rather than conglomerate in a mass of ‘mental health professional’.

Truth is, there are too few ASWS and it was a change that needed to happen. Likelihood is, the end result will be positive as there will be an enhancement in the professional status of those who want to enter this area of practice and the wider the pool the more likely the cream may be to rise to the top. Although a part of me is a little suspicious of anyone who actually wants to carry out Mental Health Act Assessments…

n.b. The title of the post is making the assumption that I’ll actually pass the course and get warranted.. !