Mental Health Social Work

Mental Health Social Workers: In Demand Today & Tomorrow

A compilation of statistics from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) indicates that in any given year, approximately one in four adults in America suffers from some sort of mental health condition. In 2013, this included approximately 42 million people who are living with anxiety disorders, plus millions of others diagnosed with more serious mental illnesses.

The number of mentally ill persons in society continues to increase from year to year, as people from all walks of life find themselves in need of counseling, support, and encouragement. Advancing your social work education with a focus on mental health can provide you with the opportunity to assist people of all ages, races, and income levels.

The mental health social worker is an essential member of a multidisciplinary care team that might also include a physician, psychologist, and/or psychiatrist. The family of a mentally ill individual, if involved and engaged in his or her life, may be part of the care team as well. Every situation is unique unto itself.

As the assigned social worker, you will help to make an assessment of the best treatment options for your clients. You will also counsel them on the importance of committing to their treatment plan and going forward with a sense of hope for the future. It will also be your responsibility to keep tabs on each client’s progress, to see if they are making any improvements or need referrals to additional resources.

Sometimes it is difficult for people to keep up with the requirements of their work when they are struggling with mental illness. Thus, you might also find yourself helping clients sign up for public assistance or disability benefits, or advocating for them if they were unfairly terminated from employment.

Opportunities for mental health social workers are as diverse as the individuals you will serve over the course of your career. This can include positions in behavioral health facilities and medical, psychiatric, and rehabilitation hospitals. Social workers with a focus on mental health are also in demand at community agencies, schools, and correctional centers. No matter which path you choose to follow, you will be contributing greatly to the necessity of mental health care in America.

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