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Two inspiring workers share SASW's MHO of the Year honour

Two outstanding social workers shared the honour of receiving the Wilma MacDonald Award for SASW Mental Health Officer of the Year.

Annea Wilson and Ruth Buchanan were presented with their awards at the SASW MHO Annual Study Conference which was held in Perth in October.

The SASW award – now in its second year – is dedicated to the memory of Wilma MacDonald, a social worker and MHO who worked in the East End of Glasgow.

Annea is about to retire from Argyll and Bute Council where she works as part of the Integrated Community Mental Health Team in Lochgilphead.

She spent most of her career on the west coast providing MHO services in remote rural communities.

Ruth Buchanan is Depute Manager of the Community Outreach Team in West Lothian Council. Her team includes social workers and community psychiatric nurses who work with people with severe mental health problems and complex needs.

The service user who nominated Annea told how she had helped him find accommodation and return to education after nine years in hospital. He was now part of a local band which had raised £1,000 for a multiple sclerosis charity.

The service user said: “Annea is an inspiration in that she has quietly encouraged me to develop as a person and be part of my local community. In hospital everything is done for you; with her help I am becoming my own person, learning how to be independent and happy within myself.”

Service Manager Jim Littlejohn added: "Her work is always of the highest standard and whether undertaking assessments or taking the time to support service users or colleagues through often very challenging situations Annea is considerate and diligent and consistently achieves the best and most appropriate of outcomes."

Ruth Buchanan won the award for her work in a variety of roles, including for the Mental Welfare Commission. She has remained in practice whilst retaining a keen interest in policy development and training new MHOs.

The service user who nominated Ruth spoke of her ability to see the wider situation in which he and his wife were living, as well as her ability to be unobtrusively on hand to support them during his wife’s illness and help them to cope with changes in their lives.

Wilma MacDonald qualified as an MHO in 1992 and went on to spend her working life serving and caring for the people of Glasgow’s East End, particularly older people with mental health issues

After many years of devoted work, Wilma became unwell in 2009 and died on 7 May 2010. SASW decided to celebrate her life and achievements by creating the Wilma
MacDonald MHO of the Year Award.

To nominate for the SASW Social Work Awards 2013 ahead of the 30 November deadline, visit