Mental HealthSocial Issues

Social Workers & Mental Health

The role of social workers has always been essential to the treatment and recovery of people with mental health problems. They can accommodate individuals, couples, and families by providing direct services in the form of counselling, crisis intervention, and therapy. Social workers recognize the complexity of mental health in a social context. They often go beyond medical findings and dive into social inequities and structural issues. However, the job of a social worker can be tough as they simultaneously address ethical responsibilities, like private conflicts, and public issues.

Social workers assume many roles when dealing with their patients. They organize and deliver a variety of services, such as connecting individuals to professionals, caregivers, and the community. Their goal is to create a safe and supportive environment while advocating for adequate service and resources. Promoting preventative programs is something that social workers are very keen to focus on. Social workers strive to achieve early intervention, individual and public education, advocacy, and improving access to services. This fits well in the primary health care model.

Social workers usually take on roles in three broad levels of healthcare application: prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation.

Prevention is the process of reducing the incidence of the disease or dysfunction by strengthening the way the individual copes while improving the environment (s)he lives in. Individuals learn prevention through education and attention to basic needs while receiving protection.

Treatment is meant to reduce the prevalence rates of the disease or dysfunction by giving an early diagnosis of the issue along with treatment and intervention.

Rehabilitation diminishes the effects after the disease or dysfunction occurs. It is designed to train the individual to not put themselves back into their previous disease or dysfunction.

Some social workers may exclusively practice in one of these three fields, but they might cross into the other fields to accommodate a diverse client base.

Social work is an art. It focuses on human relationships and forms the foundation of health care. Social workers are irreplaceable as they act as a second family to people afflicted by a mental health illness. 70-90% of people with a mental health illness who sought help from social workers have been able to reduce their symptoms significantly, leading to much improvements in their quality of life. Thus, social work is an important step in the mental health recovery process. Social work in the field of mental health will grow in the coming years as health care emphasizes the importance of social and psychological determinants of health.

Featured Image Source: SplitShire


  • Lawrence Cheung

    Lawrence Cheung is a writer at INKspire. He's currently an undergrad student in Carleton University's Political Science Program.

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