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Many social workers in Northern Ireland are concerned about the adequacy of support available to families affected by enduring parental mental health difficulties according to research carried out by University of Ulster, Social Work lecturer, Aisling Monds-Watson, who this week was awarded her PhD at the University’s summer graduation ceremonies in the Millennium Forum.

The study, entitled ‘An Exploration of Social Work Practice in Northern Ireland with Families where Mothers have Enduring Mental Health Difficulties’, revealed a lack of confidence among social workers in the service provision to these families, with the majority of social workers believing that inadequate resources made effective interagency working very difficult.

Dr Monds-Watson said: ”It goes without saying that social work resourcing is inadequate. However, in the current economic climate, this is unlikely to improve. The challenge, therefore, is to utilise the resources that are available in terms of knowledge, skills, experience, training and support in the most effective and ethical manner possible.

This necessitates pragmatic approaches and innovative adaptations to the already existing structures for Social Work training and the delivery of care.”

Dr Roger Manktelow, who supervised the doctoral research, said Aisling is to be commended for her work.

He continued: “Her research has made a key contribution to our understanding of the issues surrounding a critical area of statutory social workand generated valuable recommendations for a model of best practice.”

Dr Monds-Watson joined the School of Sociology and Applied Social Studies at Magee as a full-time lecturer in Social Work in September 2009.

Originally from Belfast, she has lived in Londonderry with husband Jimmi and children, Aodhgan, Bridie and Aaron, for the last 10 years. She graduated from Ulster in 1990 with a degree in Fine & Applied Art, subsequently studying psychotherapy and working for over a decade in Community Mental Health services, before returning to the University to graduate with a first class honours degree in Social Work in 2007.