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The Major Problems Facing Many Societies Social Work Essay

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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016

Discrimination of marginalized groups is a major problem facing many societies. Most societies have marginalized groups which are discriminated against by the rest of society. Such groups include the poor, sick, old, disabled and others. In some societies, racial or religious discrimination is prevalent and people of different ethnic origin from the majority are discriminated against. During the 1960s, the United States had many cases of discrimination especially against African Americans. Clark in his book “Dark Ghetto” captures the racial discrimination against blacks during this period. Clark discusses problems which inhabitants and communities which live in American ghettos experience. This paper aims at comparing the experience at the Geel Organization with the experiences addressed by Clark in the book “Dark Ghetto”. The Geel Organization provides mentally ill patients with housing and health support to ensure they recover and achieve their potential. Since the mentally ill are usually discriminated against by society, the paper will compare the discrimination which African Americans experienced during the 1960s with the discrimination mentally ill patients experience today. The discussed issues will be summarized at the end.

“Dark Ghetto” by Clark

Clark analyzes problems faced by African Americans living in ghettos. He acquires an “involved observer’s” view, which includes empathy for the suffering as he undertakes his research work (Clark, 1989). Clark studies the sociological and psychological impacts which ghetto life has on African Americans. He views the problems which African Americans living in slums face as significant since they are made to believe that they cannot rise above poverty due to racist actions and policies. Clark also points out that in spite of this suffering; there is still hope for African Americans. The book evaluates the inability of people in power to empower the suffering in ghettos and the specific use of racist policies to oppress African Americans. The author finally offers solutions to end this major problem affecting the American society.

Geel Community Services

Geel Community Services is an organization geared towards catering for the mentally ill patients in New York City. It was founded in 1976 by the Bronx community members and health care professionals to cater for housing and health needs of mentally disables people (Geel Community Service Organization, 2011). The organization offers mentally ill patients with reliable, stable and safe places to live in. In addition, the organization ensures that they have access to support services such as health and counseling services needed for their steady recovery. This ensures that they achieve their potential and are respected by the society at large. Geel appreciates the role mentally ill patients may play in the community if they can access support needed to address their illnesses. The organization provides housing needs among other needs to achieve the organizational objectives of ensuring mentally ill patients have decent housing and health services.

How the issue impacts on the work of Geel Services

The paper will specifically focus on discrimination which was discussed by Clark in the book “Dark Ghetto”. Clark analyzes how the black community was discriminated against by the American government. During this period, there were various policies which were specifically developed to discriminate against African Americans. For instance, they were not allowed to vote, most had no access to education and work opportunities, slave trade was legalized in some states, they had no access to political positions and power, among many other forms of discrimination (Murrin et. al., 2003). Clark specifically focuses on the African Americans living in ghettos who in addition to having poverty problems, they also suffered under discrimination. Discrimination against this population segment reduced their chances of reducing poverty through empowerment. Since the blacks could not access education and employment opportunities, their subsequent generations also suffered from poverty. This was intentionally planned by the government to ensure that this racial group was oppressed.

The issue of discrimination of African Americans is similar to the issues addressed by Geel Services. This organization aims at empowering the mentally ill through providing them with housing and other forms of help in order to empower the mentally unwell and reduce discrimination by society. The mentally ill are discriminated against by society due to their mental conditions. Young mentally ill children are ridiculed by their peers, and in some cases, their guardians and parents. They usually do not have access to superior educational and health facilities as bodied children do. In addition, many mentally ill people are from poor families and they lack decent housing. When mentally disabled children are through with schooling, there are few employment opportunities. This further marginalizes them and makes it difficult for them to overcome poverty.

The discrimination which black people suffered during the 1960s as addressed by Clark is similar to that experienced by disabled people today. The black people who suffered discrimination were handicapped by poverty, which made it difficult for them to escape the poverty cycle. Mentally ill people today are handicapped by disability which when combined with discrimination, makes it challenging to escape from poverty. Geel Services organization therefore strongly relates with the concepts discussed by Clark in the book “Dark Ghetto”.

How current social policy impacts the field of practice

After the 1960s, the government reversed the policies against discrimination of the Black community after the society rejected oppression of blacks. After the media highlighted the challenges faced by the black community and the African Americans demonstrated against oppression, the society rejected racial discrimination. The government therefore developed a policy where people received equal treatment in spite of their racial or ethnic backgrounds. In modern society, discrimination against the disabled is also an offence under law. Disabled people including the mentally ill should receive equal education, health and employment opportunities with able bodied people. Although this is not effectively implemented in society, public support for the mentally ill has increased over the years.

The social policy barring discrimination on people based on any criteria has been important in achieving the objectives of Geel Services. Discrimination is an offense in law and people who discriminate against disabled people may be liable in courts of law. In addition, after racial discrimination declined after the 1960s, the society began accepting the marginalized in society (Kenneth & Trotter, 2005). Many lobby groups and organizations emerged to cater for various causes including illnesses, education and human rights. The embracement of the marginalized in society has encouraged the Geel Services organization to spread its mission to the public in order to mobilize support to assist the mentally ill. The public has been very supportive of this cause and a high proportion of financial and non-financial support can be traced to the general public. Finally, the social policy of offering health assistance to people who cannot afford health care cover has also enabled Geel Services improve the welfare of the mentally ill. Since most of these patients are poor, the government and private sector support for healthcare has ensured that a large number of mentally ill people gain healthcare services they need.

Implications for social work practice within the field of practice in an urban setting

Social work practice by Geel Organization in the field of mental health has had positive impacts on society. The organization has improved public knowledge about how to deal with people suffering from mental illnesses. This has been important in mobilizing support for mentally ill patients across New York City. In addition, the activities undertaken by this organization have led to the mobilization of resources needed to take care of the mentally ill. Public knowledge of the illnesses has encouraged generous contributions which have been used to establish decent housing and health care for the mentally ill. In addition, cooperation with the private sector and government has led to a more effective focus on the mentally ill by society. The government has drafted laws which discouraged discrimination of the mentally ill. It has also provided personnel, resources, infrastructure and funds needed to improve the standards of living of the mentally ill.

The social work practice by Geel organization has also encouraged broad research on mental illnesses and their interventions. Due to increased knowledge on mental illnesses by the society, the organization has influenced numerous researches on mental illnesses and the various treatment interventions which are effective for treating these conditions. As a result, treatment interventions which combine the use of therapy and drugs have been developed and these are useful in treatment of various mental disorders. The government and private firms are increasingly donating funds towards mental health research. Undertaking research and developing treatment interventions is arguably the best way of dealing with the mental health problem in society.

Community strengths currently existing regarding the issues under discussions

There are various community strengths which are present in New York City as the needs of the mentally ill are addressed by Geel Organization. One of the major strengths is the public knowledge about the needs of the mentally ill. Due to extensive educational efforts by Geel Organization and other organizations which cater for the needs of the mentally ill, a large proportion of the public is aware of the needs of the mentally ill (Weare, 2000). Many people are aware of the support they require in order to recover completely. Due to this knowledge, many individuals and firms have donated resources aimed at ensuring the mentally ill have access to decent housing and health care services. This has provided the bulk of resources needed to meet Geel Organization’s objectives.

Another community strength currently existing in New York is support from the local and state governments in supporting the mentally ill. Unlike many states, New York has developed policies and allocated resources to effectively deal with the mentally ill people among the population. The state laws are strict regarding discrimination and this has deterred people from discriminating against the mentally ill. In addition, the government has provided resources, healthcare personnel, infrastructure and funding to ensure mentally ill people live decent lives in society. They have educational curricular and schools meant to cater for their unique needs. This makes it easier for Geel Organization to help the mentally ill in the community.

Clark’s work and relevance to fieldwork placement

Clark’s work is very relevant to the activities which are undertaken by Geel Organization. As has been discussed, Clark undertook a research to analyze how African Americans were discriminated against by the government on the basis of racial backgrounds. The research also analyzed the challenges faced in slums with regards to this marginalized grouping. This research is similar to the activities which are undertaken by Geel Organization. Geel supports another marginalized group which has been discriminated against by society; the mentally ill. The challenges which the mentally ill face in society today are similar to those faced by African Americans during the 1960s. Both the mentally ill people today and African Americans then did not have access to education, quality healthcare, decent housing, employment opportunities and other rights. The research conducted by Clark is therefore relevant to problems faced today by the mentally ill.

In addition, Clark advances some solutions to the problems which African Americans faced. These solutions included an end to discrimination, better access to healthcare, education and employment opportunities, mobilizing local support for an end to discrimination, passage of strict laws which discouraged racial discrimination and giving African Americans voting rights to make political decisions. These solutions are similar to the approaches which are used by the Geel Organization to cater for needs of the mentally ill. They include advocating for health care access and housing for the mentally ill as well as mobilizing support from the public to satisfy needs of this marginalized group. This makes Clark’s work relevant to the activities undertaken by Geels Organization.

Summary and conclusion

Various issues which relate to discrimination have been extensively addressed in the paper. Clark in the book “Dark Ghetto” explores the discrimination which the black community living in ghettos experienced in the 1960s. In addition to the problem of poverty, the black community was discriminated against through unequal access to opportunities and resources and this made it difficult for them to overcome poverty. However, eventually the government reversed the policies which discriminated against blacks after pressure from the American population. Geel Organization relates to the “Dark Ghetto” in several aspects. The organization cares for mentally ill people who have been discriminated against by society. It advocates for decent housing and health care for the mentally ill as well as an end to their discrimination. The mission of Geel Society is therefore similar to that of Clark; and end to discrimination of the marginalized.

Geel Organization has succeeded in increasing awareness on the challenges facing the mentally ill. It has also contributed to mobilizing resources from individuals, private firms and the government to help the mentally ill. In addition, the organization has encouraged wide research on mental health illnesses to develop treatment interventions for the mentally ill. The government has played a crucial role of proving resources, healthcare personnel, infrastructure and funding to ensure mentally ill people live decent lives in society. In addition, strict laws have been passed to guard against discrimination of this group. This has helped improve the living conditions of the mentally ill in society. The government should allocate more resources towards infrastructure and research on mental health in order to manage mental illnesses. The local community should also continue providing support to mentally ill people in order for them to feel appreciated by society.


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