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Searching for a Social Work Language of Human Rights: Perspectives of Social Workers in an Integrated Mental Health Service

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Publication details

JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
DateAccepted/In press - 10 May 2021
DateE-pub ahead of print (current) - 24 Jun 2021
Number of pages18
Early online date24/06/21
Original languageEnglish


Human rights are described as central to the social work profession. However, whilst principles of human rights are generally accepted as fundamental to social work, their application in specific practice settings is far more complex and the perspectives of social workers themselves are largely absent in the literature.
This research explored the perspectives of nine social workers in integrated mental health teams in a National Health Service (NHS) Trust in the north of England. Participants took part in semi-structured face-to-face interviews investigating the role of social workers in enacting rights-based social work in integrated mental health services, the issues they face and aspects of good practice. Participants identified rights-based approaches as inherent in their practice but lacked an adequate language to describe this work and confidence in using specific legislation. All described a lack of available training (post-qualification) and support, and the impact of a lack of both time and resources, in enacting rights-based work. The research suggests a need for further training in human rights, increased support for social workers in enacting rights-based work, and for a language of human rights to be more effectively embedded in organisations.

Bibliographical note

© The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf
of The British Association of Social Workers.

    Research areas

  • social work, human rights, mental health, social work practice, integrated setting

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