Mental Health

Social work practice in mental illness is a much needed service, as nearly half of all Americans are bound to be afflicted by it at some point in their lifetime. Mental health is broadly defined since it varies from culture to culture based on different conceptions and values.

  • According to the American Psychiatric Association, to be diagnosed with a mental disorder one must show significant distress or even impairment in respects to one’s ability to function certain areas of life like social life, family life, or work life.
  • An emphasis should be put on children’s mental health. Half of mental disorders start to show by age 14 and that rises to 75% by age 24.
  • According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the suicide rate in America increased by 24% from 1999 to 2014. Although many groups have shown an increase, suicide amongst youths (ages 15 to 24) has almost tripled since 1960.
  • Mental health disorders may be very difficult to treat because often times they are comorbid. Many people develop a substance use disorder while trying to self-medicate symptoms like depression and anxiety.
  • Motivational interviewing is one of the best tools for social workers to gain their clients trust and help point them in the right direction. Some major keys for this counseling approach are reflective listening, patience, and supporting self-efficacy. It is the client who must be responsible for carrying out change and the interviewer should offer insight but never the solution to the problem.
  • While all mental health disorders are serious, some are deemed more serious than others due to the persistence of the disease (schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, certain types of depression). Either way, any mental health disorder will become more debilitating the longer it is left untreated.


DiNitto, D., & McNeece, C. (2008). Social work: Issues and opportunities in a challenging profession (3rd ed.). Chicago, IL: Lyceum Books.

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