Social Work is the discipline which seeks to enhance the social functioning of individuals by focusing on the interaction between man and the various aspects of his life. The Psychiatric Social Worker focuses on the needs of clients and their families, particularly in areas that may hinder or promote rehabilitation.
The Bellevue Hospital began employing Social Workers during the year 1959. The first two Social Workers, Ms. Barbara Kelly and Mrs. Edna Francis-McLaren, worked island wide supporting patients and their families through Health Centres/General Hospitals. They sought to provide education about mental illness, strategies for coping and many times would even take medication for the patients.
The department currently operates Mondays – Thursdays between 8:00 am and 4:00 pm and 8:00 am – 3:00 pm on Fridays. It comprises seven social workers. Each worker is assigned to a number of wards including the Emergency Room and Day Clinic. The day-to-day operation includes interaction with several agencies, such as, Poor Relief Departments, the Ministry of Social Security (the PATH programme), Combined Disabilities Association, and Food for the Poor. Such interaction is with the view of changing social ills faced by clients including education and training, unemployment, poverty, and living condition. The Social Worker also attempts to alleviate these challenges by:Facilitating behavioural changes through education among patients and the wider community Helping clients to manage assets and resources Advocating on behalf of the needs and rights of the clients Fostering amicable resolution in areas of conflict Providing counselling and information as the need arises
The department spearheads a Family Support Group which began many years ago but was re-established in May 2008. The group meets on the 4th Saturday of each month at 10:00 am in the In-Service department on the hospital compound. It seeks to provide a forum for stable patients, relatives and friends of the mentally ill to equip them with the knowledge and support necessary for combating mental illness.