Care for Black Social Workers in Mental Health.

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2012 National Black Members' Conference
21 September 2011

Conference, in recent years we have seen a decline in the care of our Black Social Workers in the field of mental health and the valuable work they perform on a daily basis in our communities. They are undervalued, under supervised and unheard by managers of their hardship.

It is a known fact that in general people from the Black communities are over represented in the mental health system and are :

·more likely to be diagnosed with mental health problems

·more likely to be diagnosed and admitted to hospital

·more likely to experience a poor outcome from treatment

·more likely to disengage from mainstream mental health services,

·leading to social exclusion and a deterioration in their mental health.

Conference therefore, it is essential that our Black Social Workers are cared for and supported by the service they represent. Black Social workers in our community uphold the community values and represent the views of Black service users and fight discrimination on all fronts of the service. This is because they care.

However conference, these Social Workers are put under immense pressure of the number of complex cases they have to hold. Unlike in other fields of other Social Work where cases can be closed after a short period of time, in mental health, cases can remain open for several months and years. It has been known for Social Worker in mental health to have anything up to 30 and 35 cases open to them. This has resulted in many Social Workers of having high levels of sickness and been burnt out. Furthermore, Social Workers have been put in these vulnerable positions and have been placed in many cases at the front line of disciplinary action and blamed for the failure of the services.

In his 2003 report, Lord Laming recommended that, when allocating cases, managers must ensure social workers are clear what has been allocated and what action is required and the number of cases each Social Worker holds. Yet, more than six years later, in some areas, this is still not happening. A maximum caseload limit will be meaningless if employers can’t be held accountable. Therefore, it’s essential for limits and guidance to be in place and caseload limits and guidance are part of the inspection process.”

Conference calls upon the NBMC to work with the NEC to:

1.Include Mental Health Social Workers on the UNISON’s agenda.

2.produce policies to limit number of cases held by Social Workers.

3·To provide a safe and coherent service to service users from Black Communities and to avoid Social Workers of being made the scape goats for management failures.