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This research paper is going to look at the social work profession and specifically deal with mental health social work. In researching on the subject, I will use books and articles to get secondary information and at the same time carry out an interview with two social workers that are involved with mental health patients and clients. One of the social workers has a bachelor’s degree in social work while the other one holds a master’s degree in social work. Carrying out the interview will require posing a few questions which are listed below.
What is the social work profession in general all about?
What other or extra duties are social workers expected to perform?
How many categories of social workers are there in the profession?
What does a mental health worker specialize in?
What is the connection between a mental health social worker and a substance abuse social worker?
What are the services that one would expect to get when visiting a mental health social worker?
Give me a short briefing of the nature of your work as a social worker?
How is your work related to the outside and regular work environment?
What are the challenges that most mental health workers face in their jobs?
What requirements does one need to get into this profession?
Are there any exceptions for entry-level jobs in small agencies or community work?
Is there a specific amount of field experience required beforehand seeing as one gets to handle clients directly?
What other qualifications does one need apart from the educational and professional ones?
Are there any personal skills advantageous to this profession?
Is there any advancement opportunities in the mental health social work profession and what are they?
Social work is a profession which is most suitable for individuals who have a strong urge and desire to help improve the lives of other people. Therefore, social workers are the professionals who help people in coping with their day to day lives and solving their personal, family and relationship problems. In additions, there is another group of social workers that helps the clients in dealing with disabilities and life threatening or fatal diseases as well as social problems such as drug abuse and unemployment. As a result, they also end up being involved in the conducting of research, advocating for improved services and involvement in the planning and/or policy development. Basically, most of the social workers concentrate in supplying their services to a particular population or in operating in a specific background. Social workers are generally involved in different areas of practice according to one’s preference. These categories are mental health, elderly, education, political, medical or slums dwellers. If they have the right State mandated license, these workers are referred to as licensed clinical social workers in spite of whichever setting they are in.
Mental health social workers, who are often paired up with the substance abuse social workers, are the ones who treat people affected with mental illness or substance abuse problems. The reason why mental and substance abuse social workers are paired up is because more often than not, substance abuse leads to addiction and most experts concur that addiction is a brain disease. The services offered by these social workers include individual and group therapy, crisis intervention, outreach, social rehabilitation and outreach programs. In addition, they help in planning for supportive services so as to make it easier for the clients when they leave the in-patient facilities to rejoin the community and also provide services to help the family members of their clients cope with the situation.
Although most mental health workers are flexible to work in whichever setting that they are comfortable with, they usually spend most of their time in an office or a residential facility. Some of them work in outpatient facilities whereby the patients come for the treatment and medicine then leave while others work in inpatient facilities whereby the clients reside within the facility until they are well enough to go back home. In regard to the normal work environment, there are a few mental health workers who work in employee-assistance programs in which case they help people cope with job-related pressures or with personal problems that may affect the quality of their work production. Several other workers are involved in private practice where they get employed directly by a particular client. Workers may also travel locally to visit their clients, meet with service providers and attend meetings.
Even though most of the mental social workers are greatly satisfied after offering their services, the job can sometimes be very challenging. Social work, and especially in the mental health specialty, does not have a lot of professionals. Due to this, there is a regular understaffing and build up of large case load in some of the agencies thus leading to too much pressure on the available workers. Full time social work requires one to work a standard 40-hour week but due to the nature of the job, one is at times obligated to work during the evenings and weekends meeting with clients, attending community meetings and handling emergencies. Moreover, in the working with some patients especially in the mental health institutions can prove to be challenging and at times impossible. This is especially when dealing with a chronically ill patient who is unwilling to co-operate and is difficult to handle and manage. In such a case, external help might be required to calm down such a patient and acts such as man-handling and injecting them with sedatives have to be executed so as to return things back to normality. (Golightley, 159)
Just like any other profession, social workers also have minimum requirements so as to be permitted full entry into the occupation. Although some positions necessitate one to have an advanced degree, the most common minimum requirement is on average a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) which is sufficient for entry into the field. However there are a few exceptions whereby a major in psychology, sociology or related fields can qualify one for some entry-level jobs in small community agencies. On the other hand, a master’s degree in social work (MSW) is characteristically vital for one to get positions in both the health and teaching fields as well as in clinical work. Furthermore, for teaching position in colleges or universities, one would need a doctorate in social work (DSW or PhD). A certified bachelor’s degree program requires a minimum of 400 hours of supervised field experience while a master’s degree program includes a minimum of 900 hours of supervised field instruction. This prepares the graduates for employment in their chosen field of specialty and helps them continue developing the skills required to execute clinical assessments, handle and supervise large case loads as well as explore new ways of using social services that are helpful to the clients.
In addition to the educational qualifications, all states have licensing, certification or registration requirements regarding the use of professional titles. Most of the states call for 2 years of supervised clinical experience for any social worker to be given a license. However, one does not only need professional and educational qualifications to successfully practice a socially and emotionally challenging career of mental health social work. One also needs to have certain personal skills and traits. First and foremost, a mental health social worker should be objective and at the same time sensitive to other people and the problems they are dealing with. It is also helpful to both the social worker and the client to possess calm temperament, quiet disposition and be very patient. A social worker should also be emotionally mature, be able to manage responsibilities and to maintain good working relations with both clients and coworkers. In terms of advancement, a mental health worker can progress to become a supervisor of other workers, a program manager or an executive director of a mental health institution. In the case where one has reached a retiring age or is unable to work in a health institution, there are other career options such as teaching, consulting, researching or going into private practice.
In conclusion, despite the social work profession and most especially the area of mental health not being as popular as other careers such as medicine or law, it is just as important in the community as the others. Mental health social workers contribute greatly to the community in undertaking a task that most people do not have the heart, disposition or courage to do. If more people were to delve into the profession, the community and the families dealing with mental illnesses would benefit significantly.
NAME : Kerril Sommerville.
LOCATION : Monmouth Medical Center, Long Branch, New Jersey.
PHONE : +1 800 732-922-7300
EMAIL : [email protected]
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