AMHP responses to substance use and mental ill-health co-morbidity
In the second of three posts from new PhD students, Daisy Bogg (AMHP, trainer, consultant and prolific author) explores her route into a part-time social work PhD and what she will be researching.
For about a decade I have been promising myself that I would get on and do my PhD. In spite of a couple of offers things either in my work life or my home life have always conspired against me, so I’ve continued to put it off while continuing to read, teach and practice with half an eye on that goal.
My practice area has always been mental health and addictions. I have worked across voluntary sector and statutory mental health, substance misuse and dual diagnosis services in a whole range of roles, including as frontline Approved Mental Health Professional (AMHP) and strategic manager (often at the same time – who said you can’t keep a foot in practice as you climb the career ladder!).
About two years ago the NHS trust which I worked for – at that time as the Executive Director of Social Care & Specialist Services – was acquired by another Foundation Trust. As a result I stepped out of the NHS mental health trust world and into independent social work practice. It was a truly scary move, but one which meant I could focus on what I wanted to do with my life as opposed to whether I really had to wear a suit or not each day.
Through some good luck, a lot of hard work and some people who were willing to take a punt on me, I was able to build an independent practice spanning training, consultancy and independent social work roles, all linked into the national developments and reforms of social work. The sheer variety of my work, which still includes practicing as an AMHP for my local Emergency Duty Social Work Service (out of hours AMHP for those not familiar with the mental health world), has helped to maintain my interest as it has enabled me to consider my own practice in a far more critical and evidence-minded way than had previously been the case. Finally this year I am in a position where everything has lined up. After a random conversation with Martin earlier this summer, I took the plunge and here I am.
I have been doing a lot of work on professional standards and the Professional Capabilities Framework through my role at The College of Social Work, particularly in relation to the AMHP role. This combined with my ever-present interest in how we respond to substance use and mental ill-health co-morbidity, which led me to think about how we as AMHPs shape and influence individuals’ access to services and the outcomes they go on to experience as a result of our own attitudes, values, capabilities and professional competence. My PhD study is focusing on this area and will use several methods to explore it. At the moment I am focusing on narrowing down the area – the background literature is varied, with a whole range of views and opinions about what does and doesn’t work from a range of different perspectives. The challenge for me at this point is to find a focus rather than be side tracked in the various fascinating debates that will continue long after I’ve finished my own studies!
Keep an eye out here for more blogs from Daisy. Or you can follow her on twitter at @DaisyBoggCons and @daisyattcsw. Alternatively, find her on Amazon where you can pick up her latest book for social workers – there’s loads to choose from!