Association of Mental Health Providers

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VCSE Mental Health Social Work and Social Care Workforce Essential for Effective Services

19 May 2023: In response to NHS England’s Workforce, Training and Education Directorate’s (formerly HEE) Benchmarking of social workers and social care workforce in mental health report* Kathy Roberts, CEO of Association of Mental Health Providers, the national voice of VCSE (Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise) mental health service providers, says:

“The Association, on behalf of its members and the VCSE mental health sector, was delighted to collaborate with colleagues at Health Education England and the NHS Benchmarking Network on the concept and design of the bespoke VCSE data collection template for this high-level overview of the Mental Health Social Care and Social Worker workforce.

“This is the first time the VCSE sector has been included in this survey of the mental health social care workforce; previous to this, only NHS and local government mental health services were invited to make submissions, and we’d like to thank our many members who took the time to participate in this significant system-wide survey.

“The survey’s findings indicate that the VCSE mental health workforce is more highly skilled, extensive, multi-faceted and meets a wider, often more complex range of mental health needs, in settings from hospital to home (including prevention and care co-ordination, crisis intervention and recovery services and support), than previously acknowledged or understood.

“With nearly 1 in 3 VCSE organisations (31 per cent) providing ‘targeted support to a particular group or subset of people with mental health conditions’, the survey also shows the sector is critical for some of our most excluded, disadvantaged and at-risk citizens.

“It is therefore imperative that our VCSE mental health sector is central to community mental health transformation and improvement initiatives. Furthermore, in recognition of the critical part the VCSE sector plays in delivering mental health services, this Government must commit to sustainable ongoing and future funding for the sector’s workforce.

“The Association looks forward to continuing to work with national partners to review the survey’s findings and assist with further, ongoing activity and annual surveys, to help support and inform the development and improvement of mental health services for all.”

* The Benchmarking of social workers and social care workforce in mental health report covers NHS commissioned services delivered by NHS and non-NHS service providers. The census provides a high-level overview of the workforce across England as of 31 March 2022.

A total of 65 data submissions were received from voluntary, community and social enterprise sector organisations.

Key findings include:

  • 59% of organisations reported localised coverage arrangements i.e., operating within a single locality or borough. The remaining 41% of respondents reported wider geographic coverage; providing support nationally, regionally or across multiple ICS areas.
  • The approximate number of people with mental health conditions that were being supported on 31st March 2022 by the 65 census respondents totalled 181,770. Results varied from 4 to 89,204 people supported per organisation, with this range influenced by services’ size and geographic coverage.
  • The most common funding arrangements reported were via local authorities, grants, and/or independently generated income. In contrast, a smaller proportion of organisations confirmed funding arrangements from direct payments, central government, and/or individual budgets.
  • Health and wellbeing and peer support/group session services were the most widely offered of the 29 specified mental health service collated, with 85% and 83% of organisations confirming this as part of their service offer.
  • 85% of participants were able to clearly identify workers employed to provide social support to people with mental health conditions.
  • The overall workforce numbers (WTE) reported across all responding organisations who were able to quantify their paid workforce providing social support to people with mental health conditions totalled 5,388 (WTE). When looking solely at social support offered to people with mental health conditions who were open to secondary mental health services, these workforce numbers represented 38% of the above staffing total.

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Note to editors

Association of Mental Health Providers is the only national representative body for voluntary and community sector mental health provider organisations in England and Wales.

We represent:

  • 300 plus members,
  • Delivering over 3000 services locally, regionally and nationally,
  • reaching 8 million+ people with poor mental health and illness in the community. This equates to 1 in 8 people receiving support from a voluntary and community mental health provider.

Through our Living Experience Advisory Group, we are working with, being guided by, and learning from people with experience of mental health services.

For more information, visit

Contact: Annie Waddington-Feather


Telephone: 07713646419

We support, influence, advise, and inform and are deeply committed to discussing and reporting stories relating to mental health responsibly, helpfully and in a way that takes into account the needs of the most vulnerable members of the population. Please read our media charter here.

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