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What does a Mental Health Social Worker Do?

  • Publish Date: Posted 10 months ago
  • Author:by Abi Dickson

​A mental health social worker is a dedicated professional specialising in providing support to individuals who are facing various mental health challenges. Social workers trained in mental health play a vital role in the healthcare system by offering help emotionally with psychological, emotional, and social issues. Mental health social workers assess individual’s needs, develop tailored treatment plans, and also provide counselling and therapeutic interventions to improve their overall well-being. Additionally, they also connect clients with community resources, such as support groups, to enhance their access to essential services. With 1.75 million individuals being in contact with mental health services at the end of June 2023, according to the NHS, Mental Health Social Workers play an extremely key role in the healthcare system.

What is the role of a mental health social worker?

Counselling and Therapy-

Providing individual, group, or family counselling sessions to help clients manage and overcome mental health challenges. They may use multiple therapeutic approaches and techniques to help aid the individuals.


Safeguarding clients is an imperative in social work. This means protecting rights to life in safety free from abuse and neglect.


Conducting thorough assessments to understand the client's mental health history, strengths, and current issues. This assessment forms the basis for creating a more tailored and structured treatment plan.

Care Packages-

Developing care packages for clients may differ based on the requirements of the individual.

Crisis Intervention-

Responding to crisis situations, such as suicide threats, severe anxiety, or psychotic episodes, and providing immediate support and intervention to ensure the client is safe.

Assisting Vulnerable Groups-

Focusing on the needs of vulnerable populations, such as children, the elderly, homelessness, individuals with disabilities, or those experiencing substance misuse.

Record Keeping and Documentation-

Maintaining detailed and confidential records of clients, such as the history of health, assessments, and treatment plans, whilst ensuring they’re complying with legal and ethical standards.


Engaging in research to develop an understanding of mental health issues and advocating for policy changes to improve mental health services.


Practicing self-care to manage the emotional toll of their work and maintain their own mental health, as working in the mental health field can be emotionally demanding.

Woman upset and social worker comforting her

What skills do you need as a mental health social worker?

​Communication Skills-

Clear and effective communication is crucial in the role of assessing and explaining treatment plans, teaching coping strategies, and collaborating with clients and other healthcare professionals.

Empathy and Compassion-

The ability to genuinely understand and empathise with individuals' feelings and experiences is fundamental within the role. Compassion helps build trust, allowing to clients feel heard and supported. With 1 in 4 peopleexperiencing mental health every year in the U.K., it’s vital to have a deep understanding when working in the sector.

Cultural Competence-

Understanding and respecting cultural diversity is key to being a mental health social worker. Cultural competence enables social workers to provide culturally sensitive care and adapt their approach to meet the needs of clients from different backgrounds and upbringings.

Problem-Solving Skills-

Social workers are often faced with complex situations that require intense problem-solving and critical thinking to provide an appropriate response.

Flexibility and Adaptability-

The ability to adapt to changing circumstances and client needs is crucial in working in mental health.

Time Management and Organisational Skills-

Managing a caseload, coordinating services, and meeting deadlines require strong skills i organisation and time management.

Where do mental health social workers work?

Mental health social workers work in a variety of settings, including private practice, hospitals, mental health clinics, community health organisations, primary care facilities, and rehabilitation treatment centers.

Are there career progression opportunities for mental health social workers?

If you wish to progress after working as a mental health social worker, there are several career options to consider. With additional training and qualifications, there are multiple roles with more responsibilities, which you can work up the career ladder too. Examples include becoming an Approved Mental Health Professional (AMHP) or an Approved Mental Capacity Professional (AMCP). Other options include becoming a manager at a mental health service, either in more local authorities or public healthcare institutions, such as the NHS.

If you wish to seek a role in Mental Health, or Healthcare you can also discover roles on our website in this division.


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