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New Professor of Social Work and Mental Health

An image of Sarah Vicary.

Dr Sarah Vicary has been promoted to Professor of Social Work and Mental Health, within the OU’s Faculty of WELS.  

Professor Vicary joined The Open University in 2004 as a Staff Tutor, leading on social work and youth justice across the North of England and in Wales. More recently, she was Associate Head of School, Nations, holding strategic and operational responsibility for academics based in all nations of the United Kingdom in health and social care, social work, nursing and other professional programmes. 

Professor Vicary’s commitment to the enhancement of social work and mental health practice is underpinned by her 34-year professional registration and her personal role as a mental health social worker, including as an Approved Social Worker, the forerunner of the Approved Mental Health Professional (AMHP). As an experienced practitioner and academic, she has a long-standing interest in social work with adults.   

Sarah’s academic work is at the forefront of explorations of regulatory practices that restrict human behaviour. One particular focus, concerning the AMHP, is defined in mental health legislation and entails real-life decision-making about the deprivation of liberty.  Her research centres around mental health especially the fulfilment of professional roles and examining the way in which practitioners understand and undertake professional mental health work. 

Professor Vicary commented:  

This Professorship recognises my long held interest in social work and mental health, and I view this appointment as a fitting accolade to both by an institution which has social justice and empowerment through education as its philosophical basis. It also acknowledges the support of my family and colleagues. I am looking forward to using this promotion to continue to advance knowledge in both fields.” 

Sarah’s practice roles have included frontline social work posts, the development, creation and management of an innovative multi-disciplinary mental health crisis service, and service manager for inner city emergency mental health services.  Professor Vicary also worked for ten years as an Area Commissioner for the Mental Health Act Commission.  

She is interested in the history of social work and has coordinated the Social Work History Network for over a decade.  She inaugurated and continues to edit its widely-read annual bulletin and jointly convenes highly-respected quarterly seminars. 

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