Social Work with Mental Health Service Users

This essay aims to critically examine the provision of mental health social work.   In order to do this it will consider the processes, procedures and organisational implications of working within mental health.   Within this, the role of the Approved Mental Health Professional will be discussed.   The essay aims to demonstrate an understanding of how mental health law impacts upon service users and will identify specific areas of potential oppression particularly in relation to black and ethnic minorities and women.    

The Mental Act 1983 defines mental disorder as ‘…any disorder or disability of the mind’. Mental illness was not defined within the Act.   The World Health Organisations constitution states that ‘health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’ (pg 6).   The difference between these definitions is that mental health is described as more than the absence of mental disorders or disabilities.   Mental health is therefore an essential part of health (Adams et al, 2009).

Historically people with mental health problems were placed in institutions away from the rest of society.   This was a result of the 1845 Lunacy Act which required counties to provide asylums to detain ‘lunatics, idiots and persons of unsound mind’ (Green, 2011).   Furthermore a Mind (2010) report said that the growth of these asylums was fuelled by funding arrangements which paid a subsidy to Poor Law authorities of up to 25 per cent of the cost of supporting 'pauper lunatics' in asylums (pg 3) . This was the first government financing of any health or social care service.   By 1923 The Maudsley Hospital had opened in London. It was the first psychiatric hospital to operate outside the restrictions of the Lunacy Act.   The National Health Service was established in 1948, the same year The National Assistance Act 1948 stated that
‘it shall be the duty of every local authority to provide residential accommodation for...