The SSSC published the 2016 Mental Health Officers’ Report today (29 August 2017). The statistics show the number of mental health officers (MHO) has gone up by 5.4% to 722 in December 2016.
Anna Fowlie, SSSC Chief Executive said:
‘It is good to see increasing numbers of MHOs and also that for the first time the number of social workers completing the MHO qualification is higher than the number of MHOs leaving their posts.
‘The shortfall in MHOs has dropped by 17% since it hit a high in 2015, however it is still notable since across the whole of Scotland the equivalent of 36 workers doing full time MHO work are needed to fill the gap.’
Key points from this year’s MHO report
- The number of practising MHOs has increased by 5.4% to 722 in December 2016. The contracted whole time equivalent (WTE) has increased by 5.7%, from 602.2 in 2015 to 636.4 in 2016.
- After reaching a reporting period low of 11.2 in 2015, the MHO WTE rate per 100,000 people has risen to 11.8 in 2016, similar to the level seen in 2013.
- MHOs across Scotland spent just over half of their contracted hours on MHO work in 2016. This is because many social workers practising as MHOs carry out non-MHO work (for example, a statutory social work role) for their local authority as well as MHO work. Members of mental health teams spent around three-quarters of their contracted hours on MHO work, while members of non-mental health teams spent around a quarter. Exclusive MHOs (who can belong to either type of team) spent about 95% of their contracted hours on MHO work.
- In 2016, around two-thirds of Scotland’s local authorities reported a shortfall in their MHO staff resources. The total additional hours per week required to address the shortfalls reported have reduced by 17% from 2015, although they remain high at around 1,290 hours, the equivalent of approximately 36 additional full time exclusive MHOs. Adults with Incapacity (AWI) was once again the most commonly reported specific shortfall area.
- A total of 60 MHOs left the workforce between 7 December 2015 and 5 December 2016, an increase of 13% over the previous year. Of these, just under half retired, about a quarter resigned and just under a fifth left for other reasons such as a career break or secondment. For the first time in the period examined (2012–2016), the number of MHO Award Programme completions (62 in 2015-16) is greater than the number of leavers.
The report is based on administrative data collected by the SSSC directly from local authorities as part of the annual local authority social work services survey (LASWS).
It gives a picture of:
- the number of practising MHOs in post at 1 December 2016, excluding long-term absentees
- MHO trainees, leavers, vacancies and staffing shortfalls
- some key aspects of the work carried out by MHOs in Scotland.