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Mental health social work in multidisciplinary community teams: An analysis of a national service user survey

Boland, Jennifer ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8717-0437, Abendstern, Michele, Wilberforce, Mark, Pitts, Rosa, Hughes, Jane and Challis, David (2019) Mental health social work in multidisciplinary community teams: An analysis of a national service user survey. Journal of Social Work, 21 (1). pp. 3-25.

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The article addresses the continued lack of clarity about the role of the mental health social worker within community mental health teams for working age adults and particularly the limited evidence regarding this from the perspective of service users. It compares findings from the literature, found to originate from a predominantly professional viewpoint, with secondary analysis of a national survey of service users to assess their views.


Three particular aspects of mental health social workers’ role identified in the literature were, to some extent, also located within the national survey and can be summarised as: approaches to practice, nature of involvement, and scope of support. The presence of these features was largely not substantiated by the survey results, with few differences evident between service users’ experiences of mental health social workers compared with other mental health staff. When nurses and social workers were compared, results were either the same for both professions or favoured nurses. The findings point both to the difficulty of articulating the social work contribution and to the limitations of the secondary data.


The findings are a useful benchmark, highlighting the limited evidence base and the need for further research to improve both the understanding of the mental health social work role and how it is experienced by service users. The profession is keen to emphasise its specific contribution. Research evidence is required to underscore this and to ensure that the role is not subsumed within generic practice.

Item Type: Article
Status: Published
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1468017319860663
School/Department: School of Education, Language and Psychology
URI: https://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/7275

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