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Social Workers

Most mental health social workers are based in multidisciplinary hospital or community mental health teams. They see patients referred to the team by GPs. They are likely to be involved if patients have social problems, such as housing, money and employment. They may provide informal counselling and advice.
 
Social workers may control access to some services such as day centres, respite care, residential care and other community support services, e.g. home helps. The primary role of an approved social worker is to act as the guardian of the patient''s rights. If a psychiatrist believes that a patient should be detained in hospital against their will, they will request an SW to see the patient, along with another doctor. If both doctors and the SW agree that the patient is mentally ill and that it is in the interests of their health, safety or the safety of others, that they remain in hospital, then an observation order will be applied to detain the patient. The SW has responsibilities to contact the patient''s next of kin and to help any appeals against the order that the patient wants to make.
 
Social workers complete a three year degree course. During a social worker''s training they undergo placements in different settings e.g. child protection or adult mental health.
 
The social work department at Mount Carmel Hospital has a staff complement of 1 principal social worker, 2 senior social workers, 8 social workers and 2 care-workers. The team is assisted by a full-time secretary. The social workers form part of multidisciplinary teams to help deliver holistic interventions to users of the public mental health services.
 
The main social work duties involved:
Addressing the social (especially financial, accommodation, employment, etc.,) needs of patients to assist in their early release from hospital.
Teaching social skills (especially interpersonal communication) to clients and their family networks to facilitate community living.
Representing the clients in court to ensure their interests are safe guarded.
Liaising with other agencies to cater for other needs faced by clients (example child protection, domestic violence, etc.) 
 
Mental Health Welfare Officers (MWOs) Duties
 
From the above social work team (6) social workers are also appointed by the Minister of Health, to act as Mental Welfare Officers (MWOs), according to the Mental Health Act, 1981. When a person is certified by a psychiatrist to be requiring an admission into Mount Carmel Hospital on the grounds that he/she has a mental illness and it is unsafe for him/her to remain at home, the nearest relative of that individual has to fill an application for such an admission into Mount Carmel Hospital. However, if/when the nearest relative is not available, or is not able to apply, or else is not acting in the best interest of the person concerned, the mental health welfare officer assumes that responsibility and applies for the individual''s admission into hospital.
 
Other social work activities:
Social workers actively participate in anti-stigma television and radio programmes which are organised from time to time by the media. The aim is to promote a more realistic image of mental illness and to break the antiquated taboos that discriminate against people who suffer from mental health problems. When invited, social workers also contribute by writing articles, for the local news papers, on awareness rising.

Social workers accept invitations to give presentations at university to undergraduates to encourage prospective professionals to work in the area of mental health and thus guaranteeing an adequate number of human resources for the future. Additionally, social workers give educational talks to other governmental agencies like the ETC, voluntary organisations like the Catholic Action Movement, and the private sector like private nursing homes etc. On these occasions social workers aim to inform the public about the current direction of psychiatric care provision i.e. where the staff, the patients and the relatives work together to help the individual return back to the community and to lead a productive life independent/semi-independent life according to his/her means.
Social workers host secondary school children visits to our organisation and help to disseminate a more realistic perspective of Mount Carmel Hospital. During these visits the social workers introduce the students and their teachers to various members of the multidisciplinary teams and they also meet in-patients of the units of the hospital. Through this initiative, these visitors get a first-hand experience on what it means to be a patient in Mount Carmel Hospital. They will thus be more able to from a realistic opinion about mental health problems and the current care provision within the public health sector.

Social workers give their contribution through membership voluntary societies such as Richmond Foundation among others. Through the participation in NGOs, the social workers aim to expand the social opportunities for the users of the mental health service and their families.

Social workers hold regular meetings with stakeholders (private employers, property owners, relatives of clients, lawyers, etc.) on behalf of clients, particularly those who have been resettled in the community living arrangements after years of hospitalisation, and any problems related with this transition are ironed out. The social workers oftentimes take their own initiative to find sponsors, obtain donations, link clients to charitable networks and any other opportunities to help ameliorate their clients'' living realities.