Recruiting and retaining social worker AMHPs: evidence and a research agenda

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There is a national shortage of Approved Mental Health Professionals. This review identifies evidence (and gaps in the research) about why social workers want to qualify as Approved Mental Health Professionals (AMHPs); factors that discourage them from becoming AMHPs; and their views about the impact of AMHP work on relationships with service users and about AMHP training. The Chief Social Worker for England commissioned the Social Care Workforce Research Unit to undertake this review in mid-2018. We undertook a broad initial database search using ‘Approved Mental Health Professional’ as a search term which yielded a manageable number (n=303) of results.Hand searches of four journals and the reference lists of four PhDs. Ultimately 23 publications were included in the review.

This review exposed the need for a more nuanced exploration of the present AMHP vacancy and recruitment concerns. Rather than simply considering why social workers want to become and stay in AMHP roles, there is a need for research on training capacity and decision making; and the limits set to this by employers. Applications are not the only measure of this since they may be filtered out at early stages. The AMHP workforce is 'employer-led' or employer created to a great extent and social workers' own motivations to take on this role are likely to be only a small explanation of the present shortage.
Original languageEnglish
Commissioning bodyDHSC Department of Health and Social Care
Number of pages66
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019


  • Social Work
  • review and synthesis


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