Mental health seems to be a growing area of concern worldwide with the number of people suffering from mental health issues rapidly increasing. In South Africa, over 17 million people are reported to be suffering from mental illness and mental health problems. Those suffering from mental health problems are identified as a vulnerable group greatly depending on the social work intervention and service provision for recovery. As a result, social workers form part of the five core professional groups in the field of mental health worldwide. The provision of mental health services by social workers is subject to numerous realities that have a significant impact on their overall experiences in the field however there has been little to no research conducted on the experiences of social workers in providing mental health services. Therefore, the rationale of the present study was to address the identified knowledge gap in literature by conducting research specifically looking into the experiences of social workers in the provision of mental health services at Weskoppies mental health facility. The goal of the present study was to explore and describe the experiences of social workers in the provision of mental healthcare services specifically at Weskoppies mental health facility. The present study was qualitative and employed the instrumental case study design in order to generate an understanding of the experiences of social workers in providing mental health services through thick and rich descriptions of the cases studied. The ten (10) social workers who participated in the present study were purposively sampled using the following sampling criteria: the social worker had to be providing mental health services at Weskoppies mental health facility; be registered with the South African Council for Social Service Professionals (SACSSP) and be in possession of a recognised bachelor’s degree from a South African university; have six months or more experience in mental health; give consent to participate in the study and be able to speak and understand or converse in English. Semi-structured one-on-one interviews with an interview schedule were utilised to collect data from the participants. The research findings show that the absence of a clear set scope of practice for social workers providing mental health services results in role confusion and also in social workers being subject to tasks falling outside of their broad scope of social work practice (for example, accompanying patients to the ATM or collecting patient parcels at an institutional gate/entrance). The risks with such tasks are observably not covered in danger allowances as the research explains in detail in analysed findings. In addition to the above, a lack of resources was identified as the main challenge affecting the overall quality of social work service provision and interventions. The findings also indicate that there is a great gap in mental health content within the undergraduate social work degree and that the degree alone is inadequate in capacitating social workers to undertake effective practice in mental health. Supervision and workplace training seem to be effective measures in bridging the presenting gaps resulting from the undergraduate BSW degree. Recommendations include capacity building for social workers providing mental health services through the Inclusion of mental health modules in the undergraduate social work degree as well as the development of a clear set scope of practice for social workers providing mental health services. Key Concepts: Social Worker, Mental health, Mental health services, Mental illness, Mental healthcare user, Metal health facility, Weskoppies mental health facility, Experiences
Mini Dissertation (MSW (Health Care))-University of Pretoria, 2020.