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Social workers urged to contribute to consultation on psychosis and schizophrenia

BASW is urging members to contribute to an important consultation to develop clinical practice guidance on children and young people with psychosis or schizophrenia, for use in the NHS in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The draft recommendations in the guidance include proposals such as offering family intervention sessions, use of anti-psychotic medication, and timescales for referring children exhibiting signs of psychosis to specialist mental health services.

The National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) consultation is open until 27 September. Individuals and organisations cannot respond, unless they have previously registered.

BASW is a registered stakeholder organisation, so members can contribute by sending their views to professional officer Nushra Mansuri,

Commenting on the need for social workers to respond, Nushra Mansuri said: “This is an important consultation to produce useful guidance to all those working with children, young people and families who are affected by these issues.

“Moreover, for children and young people looked after by the local authority, it is vital that those taking on the corporate parenting role, i.e., social workers, foster carers, and residential care workers have a good understanding of how to support children suffering from these conditions. Social workers working in youth justice will also have an interest in this, as many children and young people in the secure estate are known to have significant mental health issues.

“When considering the mental health of children and young people, BASW believes that it is important to work within the social model and not simply employ a clinical approach, which can be very off putting to young people. Given that this is specialist work, we want to particularly illicit the views of our members working in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).

“The guidance does emphasise therapeutic services, which is welcome, particularly in terms of the role social care plays. That presents a challenge in terms of training and skilling up some parts of the workforce, and also raises questions about resources and how more opportunities are created for social workers to do direct work with children. The draft guidance also expects practitioners to be knowledgeable of all relevant legislation, including the Children Act(s) and mental health legislation such as the Mental Capacity Act. We are aware that not every practitioner would have this knowledge at their fingertips, so training in this area is vital.

“Although the guidance mentions parents or carers, it doesn’t seem to make a particular reference to children in care. We are keen to ensure that the needs of looked after children are not neglected. BASW is currently campaigning for better services for young people in care that will support their emotional and mental well-being.”

Read the full consultation documents here