Social work deals with a broad spectrum of social problems, from developing treatment plans for those suffering from various social issues to counseling students. No one in the field provides the emotional support that social workers provide to those with troubled lives. It’s a common notion that a more significant portion of social workers is typically associated with case management. On the contrary, according to research published in Health Affairs, almost 65% of all mental health services are provided by clinical social services in the U.S. With more than 200,000 clinical social workers in the field, these professionals are the largest group of mental health service providers in the country. These highly trained professionals work towards improving people’s lives who suffer from various mental health problems through educational programs, research, direct practice, crisis intervention.
It is safe to say that mental health and social work are intricately linked. Since its inception, the field of social work has been on the frontlines advocating for countless social causes such as mental health awareness, disability pay, child abuse, social security, and more. A qualified social worker is able to diagnose, assess, and recommend a treatment plan for various emotional issues, mental illnesses, and behavioral disorders. These can include dealing with anxiety, substance abuse, depression, significant life events, child abuse and neglect, and more. Social work is full of lucrative career opportunities, specially in mental health, given that the practitioners go for the right qualifications. For instance, deciding to pursue a degree of master in social work is a smart move if you prefer providing hard support to people with mental health issues in the best way. Highly trained and educated social workers are at better odds to improve the quality of life of people through direct practice.
- Social Work and Mental Health
Living a normal life becomes complicated when an individual suffers from mental illness and deteriorating mental health. Such conditions present unprecedented challenges for such individuals when they interact with their families and the community. These are the times when a professional like a mental health social worker proves to be a supportive anchor and plays a critical role in aiding the mental wellbeing of society as a whole. Social workers dealing with mental health directly work with individuals, families, and specific groups to help those living with mental illnesses and also make efforts to promote mental wellbeing.
- Role And Responsibility Of Mental Health Social Workers
The environment they work in may depend on the group of people they are treating and the nature of the treatment. Social workers typically perform the following roles and responsibilities when dealing with mental illnesses.
- Come up with strategies to help clients cope with mental illness challenges
- Offer psychotherapy services based on assessment
- Understand the patient’s needs based on their current mental health condition
- Support client deal with issues like sadness, stress, depression, hopelessness, and anger
- Track the client’s progress and provide follow up
- Play a role in improving the client’s physical issues like abnormal diet, pain, self-harm, sleeplessness, etc. caused by mental health challenges
- Help people deal with practical difficulties like losing a partner, going through a divorce, unemployment, and adjusting to an illness
- Prefer and direct the client to the right resources and professionals if you don’t find yourself fit for the case
- Ways Social Workers Deal With Mental Illnesses
Through Crisis Intervention
Sometimes quick and sound intervention is required from professionals to deal with emergencies caused by extreme symptoms of mental illnesses. Social workers can use their standard strategies to deal with common symptoms or experiences caused by mental conditions. However, some individuals’ symptoms may reach a crisis level, such as a psychotic episode, drug overdose, suicide attempt, etc. In such situations, mental health social workers may manage the dangers and help the patient in the following ways:
- Assessing the situation quickly and coming up with a crisis management strategy
- Calm the situation and the client and implement the strategy by taking necessary actions
- Take help from other professionals and utilize all available resources to handle the crisis
- Document the successful resources, plans, and equipment used to manage the situation
Providing Individual And Group Therapy
According to the setting and the extent of the patient’s condition, social workers can use therapy to reduce the symptoms. They may utilize various clinical social methods to give both individual and group therapy that may be short or long-term. Mental health social workers may use different approaches like motivational interviewing, mindfulness training, harm reduction techniques, dialectical and cognitive-behavioral technique, and more. Therapy helps people confront their situation and better understand their mental health issues. It is also an effective way to listen to other people’s stories and share your own experiences in group therapy.
Educating About Prevention
Social workers play a very crucial in keeping our community together. They don’t only feel responsible for supporting the less fortunate in society but also believe in educating the masses. Even today, mental health is considered taboo in many communities, and hence, people are not aware of its disadvantages. Social workers offer individual help and volunteer, arrange sessions, and work with various organizations to teach people about mental health issues, the problems associated with them, and how to prevent them. In some cases, they may also create programs and help organizations produce policies that address the symptoms and signs of mental illness and how to detect them for early intervention.
Mental health is one of the few topics that are rarely discussed and taken “seriously” in our society. However, the truth is that mental wellbeing is as important as physical and emotional wellbeing. Mental health should be considered a part of an individual’s overall health. Social workers play a defining role in promoting mental health wellbeing for people who need it and educating the general people. Social work is one of the most rewarding fields where professionals are dedicated to improving the quality of life of people suffering from depression, anxiety, abuse, addiction, and other traumatic life events.