Multidisciplinary work

Multidisciplinary work is now the norm in the field of mental health on both sides of the Atlantic. However, British social workers often express disappointment at the quality of this collaborative effort. For them the problem lies in the exclusivity claimed by the protagonists of the biochemical model with medication as the main intervention strategy, despite the evidence which has accumulated in the last 20 years of the limited value of both the model and the intervention when they are used on their own. Both social workers and users complain that only lip service is paid to psychosocial thinking and intervention in relation to people with either mild or severe mental health problems. Psychiatrists and general practitioners know little about psychosocial approaches and tend to over-rule social workers when a conflict of approaches comes to the fore.

American social workers in private practice act more as psychotherapists than as social workers and control their own practice to a higher degree than British social workers. However, American social workers in public sector services are making the same complaints as their British counterparts.

The author's own research^1,' concerning three teams of social workers located in a hospital due to close highlighted that social workers were perceived by hospital staff as outsiders and that they perceived themselves as such. This was due mainly to a different intervention philosophy, which meant that they approved of hospital closure and community care, whereas the other disciplines (with the exception of the psychologists, a very small group numerically) did not.

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