A summer school exchange saw aspiring Social Workers from the US spend two weeks with the School of Social Sciences.
The initiative saw 20 students from Hope College, Michigan, visit Liverpool Hope to learn more about the UK’s mental health system.
Organised by Hope’s Professional Tutor in Social Work Nicki Blundell and Hope College’s Professor Emeritus Patricia Roehling, the programme has been running for eight years – with a hiatus during the Covid pandemic.
Speaking about the origins and aims of the programme, Professor Roehling said: “Our original idea was to provide students with the opportunity to look at mental health care through a different lens.
“We tend to think the US and UK are very similar, but there are some profound differences in our systems – particularly when it comes to how we identify, treat and recognise civil liberties in our populations.
“The exchange programme is always popular and opens students’ eyes to how other cultures operate, which helps to broaden their understanding of mental illness.”
Venecia Rodriguez, who is studying Social Work at Hope College, described the exchange as an empowering and inspiring experience.
She said: “Learning from students from different backgrounds about their culture amplifies ways of thinking, and has proven really insightful.
“Hearing about the UK’s NHS and voluntary sector organisations has sparked an interest in exploring other systems outside of what we practice in the US.
“The intersection between mental health and policy is not something that is really emphasised in our classrooms, so I wanted to really dive into this and see how both are entwined.”
For Liverpool Hope student Sanjana Basu, who is studying for a Masters in Social Work, the chance to get a first-person perspective from the US visitors was a big draw.
Sanjana said: “I feel like I’ve not only learned several surprising things about the US system, such as how health insurance works, but I’ve also learned more about traditional UK systems, including how undervalued the NHS seems to be.”
The Summer School at Liverpool Hope was facilitated by Nicki and fellow Social Work colleague Scott Massie, with help from several members of the School of Social Sciences.