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Despite extensive changes in the organisation of social and psychiatric services, there had been no study of mental health social work in the UK since the early 1960s. There was, however, no shortage of ‘received wisdom’ about the perceived failure of social work to provide a service to the mentally disordered. Originally published in 1984, it was to provide some basic information about the practice of social work in this field that the study was conducted on which Mental Health Social Work Observed is based.
The authors looked at both long-term work and emergency work in which the use of compulsory powers was requested. In addition to the views of social workers, the opinions of psychiatrists, family practitioners and of the clients themselves were sought in order to gain a full picture of social work in practice. Through their thorough immersion in the field of study and through their experience of social work and of mental health issues, the authors were able to provide a sympathetic and lucid account of the difficulties of mental health social work and of the thorny issue of interprofessional relationships which will ring true to the practitioner.
They produced recommendations relevant to social work practice at the time and this book would be found useful to social workers and their managers, to psychiatrists, family practitioners, psychiatric nurses and clinical psychologists. Of particular relevance to the then current changes in the role of the social worker under the new mental health legislation is the authors’ study of mental health emergency work, culminating in a recommended code of practice.