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This refreshed version of the guidance (originally published by Health Education England in 2021) has been updated in partnership with the Department of Health and Social Care and in consultation with a range of stakeholders.

The document outlines eight organisational requirements for effective support of the social work profession in mental health services wherever they may work. It supports and enhances the role of social work in health and care organisations by:

  • advising on how to successfully employ and support social workers in a variety of partnerships
  • helping the NHS to embed social workers as a key staff group and support registered social workers already employed in generic teams
  • identifying the actions on leadership, engagement and workforce that strengthen social work’s role in mental health care.


Who it's for

  • NHS professional and clinical leads

  • Professional bodies and regulators

  • Approved Mental Health Professionals (AMHPs) leads

  • Chairs of NHS Boards

  • Workforce leads

  • System and transformation leads

  • Mental health commissioners

  • People Boards

  • Integrated Care Systems

  • Social work in other roles and settings.


Key messages

  • Social workers are an essential part of the workforce in health and social care for both adults and children. The profession is recognised for its distinct values and the transformative, relational and rights-based principles and practice that it brings to work with communities, families and individuals.
  • Social workers and AMHPs employed in NHS services need effective support, supervision and progression as a regulated profession to achieve their full impact.


Impact on those receiving services

This guidance should encourage the NHS to directly employ more mental health social workers. Having mental health social workers as part of the multi-disciplinary team offers patients better, more holistic care and a rights-based perspective, which is truly person-centred. They emphasise preventive care and independence for people who need care and support. Their skills are essential to meet the requirements of the NHS Long Term Plan.


PDF - 17,771 Kb
This guidance sets out eight organisational requirements for effective support of social workers in mental health services wherever they may work.
PDF - 205 Kb

A range of useful materials to help implementation of the guidance including links to short films and targeted slide sets.


Related resources


Related videos 

David Bradley and Carla Fourie

Chief Executive David Bradley and Director of Social Care Carla Fourie discuss how the Guidance can support organisations to develop their workforce to meet its full potential and provide holistic care for the people they serve.

Transcript for this video

Duration 4 mins 11 secs


Eugene Jones 

Eugene Jones is Chief Operating Officer of Southern Health and welcomes an approach that sees social workers as an answer to more systemic, sustainable provision of care that includes prevention, recovery and longer-term impacts. 

Transcript for this video

Duration 5 mins 27 secs


Bryan Lynch

Bryan Lynch is Director of Social Work at Sussex Partnership explains how he and colleagues have used and adapted the Guidance to suit the needs of their organisation and help them think strategically about recruitment and retention.

Transcript for this video

Duration 4 mins 26 secs


Colleen Simon

Head of Social Work at Central and North West London Colleen Simon discusses how partnership working with local authorities is high on the agenda, as well as development of mentoring and career pathways.

Transcript for this video

Duration 6 mins 9 secs


Rachael Willis

Rachael Willis is Director of Social Work at Lancashire and South Cumbria and outlines how the Guidance helped her to bring together ideas and strategy on social work leadership within the Trust and develop training in relationship to AMHPs, CPD and student placements.

Transcript for this video

Duration 7 mins 28 secs


Celia Dunn

Celia Dunn, Principal Lead Social Worker/Approved Mental Health Professional, Associate Senior Lecturer in Social Work, Kent and Medway Partnership NHS Trust.

Transcript for this video

Duration 3 mins 4 secs