Social work and mental health
The value of everything
By Peter Gilbert with Peter Bates, Sarah Carr, Michael Clark, Nick Gould and Greg Slay

To see sections of this book in a PDF, please click here.

With mental health increasingly being recognised as crucial for a healthy and productive nation, and a vital component in the regeneration of communities, the current reality and future possibilities for social work in mental health services are becoming clearer.

This is a new edition of Peter Gilbert's The Value of Everything: Social Work and its Importance in the Field of Mental Health (RHP, 2003), which was acclaimed:
  • 'A clear guide... a useful tool for increasing understanding between all stakeholder groups in mental health.' Mental Health Today.
  • 'The author's breadth of knowledge makes the book accessible and informative at all levels of enquiry... the contribution that social work skills make to service users is apparent throughout.' Community Care
  • 'The service user and carer perspective is featured heavily, and their accounts and those of mental health staff are used liberally to illustrate why the social work role will continue to be of central importance... insightful and interesting.' Care and Health.

  • This new edition maintains the focus on the values that social work espouses as a profession, and its value in current mental health services. New chapters have been added around social inclusion; personalisation; research; spirituality; the role of the social worker following new mental health legislation in 2005 and 2007; and an overview of policy up to the current time. It
  • celebrates and promotes multi-disciplinary work and the integration of perspectives
  • sets social work as a major contribution to a truly whole-person and whole-systems approach to mental health
  • values those who use mental health services as people with their own unique strengths, needs and experiences
  • addresses issues of identity and equality
  • provides clear theoretical frameworks for understanding barriers to developing those relationships that enable social workers to recognise the capacities of service-users
  • discusses the merits of different models for understanding and working with mental or emotional distress
  • uses research and ideas drawn from sociology, psychiatry, psychology and even economics to emphasise how social work is able to utilise the best of everything that is available for theservice users' and carers' benefit.

  • Timely, it considers the value of social work in light of what users and carers want from services; the value base of the new policies of reform; the role of the social worker in different settings; and ways of taking these values and skills into these new settings.

    It will boost the confidence of social workers by reinforcing the tremendous resource that they are to people in the greatest need in our society; and will help partner professions and agencies value the contribution that social work can bring.

    Large format paperback. 192 pages. 9781905541607. Published June 2010. £19.95.


    Hari Sewell


    No health without mental health

    Thinking about professional boundaries in an inclusive society
    Peter Bates, Head of Mental Health and Community Inclusion, NDTi, and Visiting Research Fellow, Staffordshire University

    The roots of social policy

    Mental health - at the heart of reform
    Michael Clark, Research Manager with the National Mental Health Development Unit and NHS West Midlands Regional Development Centre, & Peter Gilbert

    Society is us! - the service user's and carer's view

    Personalisation - choice and control: the issues
    Sarah Carr, Senior Research Analyst at the Social Care Institute for Excellence, and Visiting Research Fellow, Staffordshire University

    The skilled helper - the role of the social worker

    The vital equilibrium - social work and the law
    Greg Slay, Practice Development Manager - Mental Health and Lead for the Approved Mental Health Professional Service at West Sussex County Council

    Spirituality - the 'forgotten' dimension?

    Research for mental health social work practice
    Nick Gould, Professor of Social WorK, University of Bath

    The value of social work in management and leadership

    Looking to the future

    References and further reading


  • Practitioners, managers, lecturers, students and their libraries in social work.
  • Anyone who is interested or involved in mental health policy.
  • Anyone else who works in or manages mental health, including nurses, psychiatrists, psychologists and counsellors.


    Peter Gilbert
    is Professor of Social Work and Spirituality at Staffordshire University, and Visiting Professor with both Birmingham and Solihull NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Worcester. Peter was the NIMHE Project Lead on Spirituality from its inception to 31st March 2009, and now works for the National Spirituality and Mental Health Forum. He has recently been appointed Chair of the National Development Team for Inclusion. Peter is a member of the National Mental Health Development Unit's Equalities Programme Board. A former Director of Social Services for Worcestershire, Peter is a registered Social Worker with 13 years of direct practice. Between 2003 and 2006 he was NIMHE/SCIE Fellow in Social Care with Professor Nick Gould, and has also been Social Care Advisor to the Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health. Having experienced an episode of depression in 2000/1 Peter is very committed to a holistic and person-centred approach. He is author of Leadership: Being Effective and Remaining Human (RHP, 2005), and co-edited Spirituality, Values and Mental Health: Jewels for the Journey, (JKP, 2007).


    "Goes a long way to set out the case for social work as one of the 'most vital components in a truly whole person and whole systems approach to mental health' (Introduction)... The layout... complements a punchy conversational and notational style and is also supported by the inclusion of numerous charts, diagrams and free-drawn images, which add an air of craft and authenticity to the writing. This is unusual in an academic text but all the better for it, in my view.

    "The contributors are a sound mix of academics and researchers, front line practitioners and managers, some of whom are, or have been, service users themselves... A central principle driving the whole book is the importance of service users taking more control of their lives, having real choice in treatments and being genuinely included as equals in partnership working.

    "The book appeals in a number of ways. It is clearly written, thoughtful and committed. In making the case for social work, the book draws strongly on an eclectic range of sources and interweaves academic writing from across several disciplines. The chapters also draw on first-hand personal accounts from service users, carers and professionals to examine and demonstrate social work practice. Where case examples are used, these offer excellent insights and reflections from practitioners and others on social work approaches and interventions. This works well across all the chapters where this technique is used...

    "Overall, if you are looking for a social work text that is interesting and entertaining but that also retains a sensitive and humane approach to mental health work, then this is a good and valuable read." British Journal of Social Work.

    "Immensely uplifting... packed with current, integrated information. What is striking is how far mental health has moved from the medical model. This is all handled sensitively in a reader-friendly style. Peter Gilbert and his colleagues draw in the reader by using succinct quotes from research and personal experiences, including Gilbert's own... I thoroughly recommend this book, for those who may only have time to read short sections to reinforce their own values or those who are working with people who have a mental illness and want to remind themselves of core social work values and some of the reasons they may be doing this work." Professional Social Work

    "Peter Gilbert, who has both edited and written several chapters in this book, has risen to the challenge by identifying universal themes and values in mental health social work, which transcend the political hues of different governments. At the same time this book, which is a new edition of Gilbert's acclaimed publication from 2003, contains up-to-date information on developments relevant to this area of social work... With a new government in power that seems determined to implement massive cuts in public services, social work will certainly be presented with enormous challenges - the amount of people who come into contact with the profession is likely to rise while the numbers of social workers may decrease. This book reasserts the importance of social work in modern society, and should be read not only by social workers and social work students, but also by anyone who needs to understand how the role of social work can address mental health issues and the needs and aspirations of people who experience mental health difficulties. - Rating: Essential Reading" Toby Williamson, head of development and later life, Mental Health Foundation, in Mental Health Today.