Advice for social workers

Mental health problems can strike anybody at any time but there are very clear social determinants involved. If you live in a deprived area, if your family has a low income, if you lack social support or a resourceful network, or if you experienced significant stressful events in your life, you are more likely to experience mental health problems. There is a very clear role for social workers in mental health services and it's vital we are involved in research and knowledge development, too. Social work has a long tradition of involving service users and carers in both our practice, and in research design. Our approaches to mental health problems are now being recognised more widely, for example the strong emphasis on co-production in mental health research today. Social work practitioners who are interested in influencing practice are extremely well placed to pursue a research career if they are serious about it.


  1. Social issues are a big focus in mental health research now.
  2. Our expansionist approach; we’re not looking for a diagnosis.
  3. Our experience of services and how they are delivered is in demand on project advisory groups.
  4. Co-production - a core principle in all applied health research now - is not new for us.
  5. We have skills in asking questions about sensitive topics.



“There is a very clear role for social worker researchers to highlight the issues in society which are causing and prolonging mental health problems.”

Martin Webber, Professor of Social Work

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