Shropshire Council

Samantha's story - newly qualified social worker

The invisible emergency service

Here Samantha talks about the role of the approved mental health professional (AMHP)

Moving from a student placement with the Mental Health Social Work Team, I took up employment with Shropshire Council. At first I was completely unaware of the role of an AMHP. Very quickly I discovered its importance, and questioned how the profession appeared to be invisible to the general public.

Usually the AMHP is a social worker with advanced and specific training. This is the only profession that a local authority has a duty to employ within adult services, so it’s a pretty important job. The role is not well known within the public domain. This could be because there is still a stigma that surrounds mental health. People also think that it is a Doctor’s responsibility to detain individuals but it is their job to recommend treatment; it is the AMHP who decides where individuals should be treated. AMHPs have to think about whether someone is a danger to themselves or others and therefore should be detained against their will in hospital.

The AMHP will make sure that a person is treated with dignity and respect and that they and their family, are aware of their rights. We need AMHP’s to make sure the law is being practised accurately, as the safety of the individuals is paramount.

AMHP’s do not want to detain people but they know that sometimes this is necessary. If someone is detained, an AMHP will make an application to the relevant hospital. Doctors make the medical recommendations and ensure that the admitting hospital is able to provide appropriate treatment and care. If after the assessment, the AMHP decides that a hospital admission is not needed, they can make arrangements for the person to be signposted to support within their community. AMHP’s do not admit people to hospital who do not need to be there!

AMHP’s work under the law and The Mental Health Act provides the legal boundaries in which people can be compulsorily admitted and detained in psychiatric hospitals, for assessment or treatment of a mental disorder. AMHP’s work closely with medical professionals, taking into consideration the medical reasons for an individual’s mental illness, but they also look at the situation more holistically. They take into account social stresses and how these impact on an individual’s mental wellbeing.

The profession and the process may sound scary, but in reality, AMHP’s have the best interests of people in mind. I have learnt that AMHP’s care. They are compassionate professionals who treat every person as an individual not as a number or a diagnosis.