"For me, being a social worker is about advocating for the rights of vulnerable people, building relationships with them and looking at their care holistically."
Emma Alexander is a mental health professional/social worker at Langley Green Hospital in Crawley. Here is her story:
"I wear both social worker and mental health hats, but I always introduce myself as a social worker as those are the main skills I feel I bring to my team.
"Growing up I saw social care and mental health needs within my own family, but I can’t say that I’ve always known that I wanted to be a social worker; I don’t think I really knew what it was when I was at school. It was later, whilst I was working with charities like the YMCA that I really started to understand what it involved.
"I applied for the social work degree course at Sussex University and was lucky enough to get a place. During my final year I had a placement at Sussex Partnership with the assertive outreach team in Brighton and I loved it.
"After I graduated I knew that I really wanted to work in mental health so I stopped looking for a job as social worker and started looking for a mental health role, and that’s when I spotted the job at Langley Green. I was concerned that I may have to sacrifice the social work side of things but they assured me at the interview that I would be able to use my skills in this role.
"During a typical day – if there is such a thing – we’ll have a team meeting and I’ll catch up with the crisis home treatment team. I work with acute mental health patients in the community so I work with the crisis team to assess new patients and plan their care. I’m also involved in running psychoeducation groups on recovery skills, cognitive behavioural therapy groups and resilience planning. And I’m on hand to assist people with practical things, like filling out forms, help with questions about housing or referring them to other services within the community. .
"For me, being a social worker is about advocating for the rights of vulnerable people, building relationships with them and looking at their care holistically. I definitely feel that I’m able to do this in my job.
"I’ve been in the role a year and a half now. It’s my first job straight out of university and I was terrified, but now feel a lot more confident. I’m part of a great team and I think it’s definitely a benefit to be part of a multidisciplinary team; I’ve learnt so much.
"I love the variety of people I get to meet every day, and the amount of contact I have with patients. Not everyone is lucky enough to be able to say that. I’m also really luck to work in an organisation that offers training opportunities and the chance to develop, and our ideas and passions are really supported. I would love to do a masters focusing on mental health and that’s something that feels possible here."