Taught course

Mental Health Social Work

University of Strathclyde · Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

Entry requirements

Applicants must:

Be nominated by their employing local authority, be supported by their employing local authority and be provided with appropriate learning opportunities.

Hold a professional social work qualification recognised by SSSC. These include:

  • BA (Hons) Social Work
  • Diploma in Social Work (DipSW)
  • Certificate of Qualification in Social Work (CQSW) together with its predecessor qualifications
  • Certificate in Social Service (CSS)
  • If you trained abroad, a letter of comparability with the CQSW or a letter of verification issued by SSSC (or another registering Council in the UK) will be required.

Normally have a minimum of two years post-qualifying experience. You should be able to demonstrate that you've improved and extended the level of competence acquired when you qualified.

Satisfy the programme provider that you have the capacity to achieve the Mental Health Officer standards, that you can be competently demonstrated as eligible to be appointed as a Mental Health Officer, and can achieve the award at SCQF Level 11 by:

  • critically reviewing your professional development since qualifying as a social worker. This should include issues of effective communication with adults who have individual communication support needs, and working with professional tensions, challenges and conflicts. Also included should be evidence from workload of challenging discrimination and demonstrating an understanding of what's meant by this
  • analysing interest in, and motivation for, undertaking mental health work including the extensive networking and collaborative practice involved
  • showing developed skills in empowering clients. This should be particularly in relation to developing their understanding of their rights to legal support and advocacy, and their views about how their needs may be more effectively met through complex decision making processes
  • exploring current awareness of the Mental Health Officer role, the complexity of the power/control issues involved and how you would use Mental Health Officer training in your current work setting

Selection for the programme is a collaborative process across the provider partnership and consists of:

  • application
  • interview (if applicable)
  • selection decision phases

These will verify your:

  • eligibility in relation to registration as a social worker with the SSSC
  • experience
  • preparedness and capacity for the specialist role
  • eligibility for the programme of study within the universities

The process will also provide feedback to you and your agency about any further preparation or experience necessary before the programme starts.

Final decision on acceptance to the course within the parameters of the minimum standards described lies with the Joint Course Management Committee.

Months of entry


Course content

The PgCert is only available to qualified social workers currently employed by local authorities.

It prepares experienced and qualified social workers, registered with the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) to undertake the statutory role of Mental Health Officer (MHO).

In undertaking the role of MHO, candidates are able to contribute positively to care and treatment of those experiencing mental disorder by ensuring an approach that recognises the impact of social as well as medical circumstances on their lives.

Key aim

The purpose is to train social workers for the role of MHO.

This is as defined in Section 32 of the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003, and as qualified by the direction of the Scottish Ministers (Requirements for appointment as Mental Health Officers) Direction (January 2009).

In 2007, the SSSC published a new set of standards and practice competencies for MHO training. This stated that the certificate must be:

  • provided by a university, within a programme provider partnership
  • delivered at SCQF Level 11, which equates with Masters level
  • be approved by the SSSC as a specialist course

Information for international students

The programme is not open to international students.

Fees and funding

UK students
International students

All candidates on the course are directly funded by their local authority.

Qualification and course duration


part time
12 months

Course contact details

Postgraduate enquiries