Celebrating social workers in forensic mental health

Celebrating social workers in forensic mental health

For Forensicare’s Lead Social Worker Sarah Harvey, it’s all about supporting people with their mental health recovery.

Whether that’s helping people set goals, or helping them navigate the often complex forensic mental health system, or even something as simple as lending an ear—Sarah is there.

“I want to help consumers feel heard, and support them to achieve their goals,” she said.

Working in mental health at the Ravenhall Correctional Centre

Sarah works as a Lead Social Worker in Forensicare’s forensic mental health service at the Ravenhall Correctional Centre, where she supports prisoners with a mental illness and their families through a challenging time in their lives.

“I also let patients and their families know about services available for them, both inside the prison system, as well as in the community upon their release.”

As a leader in Forensicare’s social work team, she manages the lived experience team, provides supervision and support for other social workers, and collaborates with a variety of stakeholders to ensure a better understanding of how organisations can work together. She also regularly works with Forensicare’s leadership team to continually ensure high-quality care for consumers in prison.

Going to work, Sarah knows she and her team make a genuine difference in the lives of prisoners living with a mental illness.

But it’s one memory that sticks out in her mind.

“A consumer came from a unit in prison to the Tambo Program for transitional care, and it became clear to me he had an intellectual disability, and had difficulty understanding what people were saying to him. Had he been in another area of the prison system, he could have been released back into the community with no supports—other than a friend he’d made in prison, who offered him a couch to sleep on, in a town he’d never been to in his life.”

“I was able to get some programs to work alongside me to help with his transition, and together, we were able to support this patient with an NDIS application, showing him a map of the area he was moving to, and linking him up with a mentor in the community and area mental health services.”

“In the community, he was able to keep these supports, and managed to achieve his goals of buying a car, getting a phone, and joining AA. He was very appreciative of everything that was put in place for him.”

 “Knowing that this man may have been released without any thought or support, and would have had to fend for himself, makes me so grateful that we were able to support him, and help him feel confident, rather than anxious and scattered upon release. This is why we do our jobs—to help people.”

The silent achievers and unsung mental health heroes

Sarah says social workers are the silent achievers—largely because they’re so focused and committed to supporting the patients they care for. But that doesn’t mean they also don’t deserve recognition.

“There are so many social workers out there doing amazing work with patients, helping support them and reduce their stress—whether that be support with finances, family, legal situations, community support, or just someone to speak to.”

“Our work does sometimes feel like we’re the quiet achievers in a team, but the work we do really does make a large impact on someone’s life.”

Working as a social worker with Forensicare

Sarah says Forensicare has undoubtedly supported her career in forensic mental health as a social worker.

“There are many staff members who have believed in me, and trusted me, and supported me to use my knowledge. This means a lot to me—and if they read this, they’ll know who they are.”

“Forensicare is definitely a place I’d recommend to anyone looking to gain a real grounding in social work. The organisation does such an important job of advocating for patients who are some of the most vulnerable people in society.”

“I have observed social workers making a huge impact on our consumers, and making a difference in people’s lives, which makes me proud.”

“I feel honoured to work for the consumers this organisation cares for.”

Interested in a career as a social worker? Check out our Work With Us page for our latest forensic mental health career opportunities.

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