6 Shocking Facts about Mental Health


Before you read any further, let’s first discuss what a mental illness is. Well, it’s not as simple as just “defining” it. There is no clear definition. However, it is typically something that causes great distress in someone’s life and affects their day-to-day functioning. While you can take two people who have diabetes and probably find many commonalities between their diseases, the same cannot be said for a mental illness. A mental illness looks different for everyone: it has difference causes, different ways of running its course, and no definitive treatment that can promise, without a doubt, improvement (Vassello, J., 2015).

  1. While you may already know this, majority of mass violence and shootings are committed by people who have a mental illness…………..FALSE! This is unfortunately a common misconception among the public. In reality, people who suffer from a mental illness are actually MORE likely to be a victim as opposed to a perpetrator. Most people with a mental illness are not “dangerous.” In fact, you are surrounded by tons of people everyday who have a mental illness whether you know it or not. That brings me to my next point… (Oliver, J.)

2. Roughly 10 million people in the U.S. have suffered from a serious mental illness in the past year! (Oliver, J.)

3. A few decades ago, there was a push to reduce the number of patients in mental institutions by 50%. Unfortunately, that promise was never carried out properly and effectively. Community mental health centers never received the funding needed in order to appropriately help patients and provide them with the necessary resources.

4. Roughly 125,000 young to middle aged mental health patients have been placed in a nursing home in the U.S. As you can imagine, this did not solve a thing (Oliver, J.)

5. A psychiatric hospital in Southern Nevada came up with the brilliant therapy known as greyhound therapy…..they discharge seriously ill patients way too soon and provide them with a one way bus ticket out of town. Again, this did anything but help them (Oliver, J.).

6. Every year, 2 million people with a mental illness go to a state or local jail. There are 10 times more people behind bars than in state psychiatric treatment centers. Our society uses the criminal justice system to treat the mentally ill. This is not only expensive, but dangerous and quite ineffective (Oliver, J.).


Oliver, John. Youtube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NGY6DqB1HX8

Vassello, John. Mental Health & Social Work Slideshow, 4/19/2016



Charlie Kramer’s Helpful Tips for Becoming a Social Worker

When asked the most helpful tip for becoming a social worker, Charlie Kramer couldn’t have said it better…”Just go for it!!!”

Charlie Kramer is a licensed clinical social worker who works at the Southern Tier Independence Center. Within just one hour, he provided an Intro to Social Work class some helpful advice for going into the social work field.

1. When working with different populations, it is important to be mindful of people’s abilities, needs, and goals. For example, Kramer has spent a nice amount of time working with people who suffer from spinal cord injuries. As one could imagine, it is so very difficult for them to perform the simple life tasks that we take for granted on a daily basis. Kramer gave the class a perfect example: even though a client may have a really hard time putting on their own socks, you have to just sit on your hands and allow them to do it themselves. It’s hard to watch them struggle and your instinct might be to go right ahead and help them. But if you do that, they won’t be able to practice and learn how to do it on their own for times when no one is around. When you discover something yourself, you learn it most deeply.

2. Therapy sessions can be uncomfortable and it is important to learn to sit there and be okay with the awkwardness. A client may come in and respond with one word answers…it feels like pulling teeth. But for all you know, just the fact that you are there willing to listen to them and meet them where they are can mean so much and help them tremendously, even if you can’t see it yourself.

3. People mention this time and time again…but that is because it is so important. You must remember to care for the person in the mirror. If you don’t, how could you possibly care for others? You are a vital person and if you’re giving more than you can without taking time for yourself, it is going to effect your work.

4. Kramer suggests that the key characteristic for a social worker is compassion. To be able to sit where the other person is sitting and be able to see yourself in that person’s shoes, that is so important. You must remain quiet enough to understand and actively listen to what the client is saying. Kramer says, “when you listen to someone, do NOT think. Just be open to it.” It is important to let whatever you are hearing fully sink in on every level.

5. When people are upset and angry, our instinct is to yell back or come back at them. Typically, that gets us no where. While it is difficult, we must learn to check in with ourselves, calm down, and just simply ask the person “are you okay” or “what’s going on.” You need to keep your voice down, maybe lower your tone a little, and try your best to get to the underlying problem.


Charlie Kramer, LCSW-R. Southern Tier Independence Center, April 14th, 2016.

What you should know and are about to know about school social work!!!

  1. More than ever, schools are in dire need of social workers due to complex social, emotional, developmental, and academic issues that all influence one another. These issues go on to effect educators in the fact that they are struggling to teach students who are dealing with social, emotional, and behavioral issues. Without focusing on all the different aspects and how they interact, it is a lot more difficult to help students with whatever problems they are experiencing. Thankfully, since the 1990s there has been a greater focus on collaboration between private and public community agencies. The idea is to meet all the needs of a student through promoting healthy child development within the context of the schools, the families, and the communities. How is this done you might ask? Well the answer is obvious…it always leads back to social workers! (Diehl & Andy, 2008 p. 1-2).


2. There is empirical evidence supporting that social workers can and do in fact have many positive impacts on students. Furthermore, school social workers have been able to reduce violent and aggressive behaviors, improve attendance, enhance social skills, and improve classroom behaviors which all in turn effect a student’s academic achievement. One way that this is done is through an ecological approach and perspective. In other words, social workers implement interventions through the school, home, and community, thus bringing together many areas of a student’s life. The interventions include case management, education, therapy, consultation, and advocacy (Diehl & Andy, 2008 p. 2, 4).


3. One study that examined a community-school model of social work practice found a significant reduction in problematic behaviors and intensity of individual student and family treatment concerns following an intervention. This model aims to establish schools as a place of community in order to enhance youth and family development through programs and services, parent involvement, family literacy, and health fairs. The goal of the study was to identify risk factors, reduce these risk factors, and increase protective factors such as  peer support and coping skills (Diehl & Andy, 2008, p.6, 7).


4. Why is it important to conduct research on the effectiveness of school social workers? Well, evaluations can help provide policy makers and educators with empirical evidence that supports “reform initiatives related to public-private partnerships.” In order to help students succeed, academically as well as emotionally and socially, we must examine what approaches are out there, how effective they are, and ways in which they can be improved (Diehl & Andy, 2008, p.6).

5. So the main take-away is that there needs to be a greater effort to create partnerships between schools, communities, and social workers. Furthermore, both schools and community organizations carry a responsibility to work together  to address problems that students, families, and communities are facing. Just because a child is a student does not mean that the responsibility is purely on the school. A child may be a student, but is also a daughter or a son, and a community member and therefore everyone must work together. ( Diehl & Andy, 2008, p. 15, 17).


Diehl, D., & Frey, A. (2008). Evaluating a Community-School Model of Social Work Practice. School Social Work Journal, 32(2), 1-17.

5 Facts Revealing the Truth behind Child Welfare and Social Work

  1. There are an astronomical one million cases of child maltreatment every year in the U.S…and that only accounts for the cases we know about. Half of those cases are due to neglect, one fourth is due to physical abuse, and about 1/10 is due to sexual abuse. Clearly, there is a serious and prevalent issue in regards to child welfare and, and something needs to be done about it. Thankfully, that’s where social workers step in (Dinitto & McNeece, 2008 p. 239).

2. Although in certain cases it is, life is not always black or white. Social workers who investigate child abuse or neglect cases have to take into account many factors; the child’s age, the location and pattern of injuries, how serious that injury might effect someone, the extent of physical neglect and educational neglect, what objects were used in the abuse, and what is legitimate punishment vs. abusive punishment (Dinitto & McNeece, 2008 p. 240).

3. It’s important that we have social workers to investigate and intervene in the appropriate ways when needed. Without them, children who are abused and neglected may suffer even more than they already have. For example, maltreatment can result in PTSD, trust issues, alcohol or drug misuse, serious mental illnesses, further abusive relationships, become abusers themselves, and intellectual deficits. This is not to say that social work intervention will prevent a child from experiencing some of those effects. But a social worker can provide children with the resources, referrals, and support that they need to function as well as they possibly can given their circumstances. (Dinitto & McNeece, 2008 p. 240-241).

4. Unfortunately, there are many children out there who are taking care of their own parents, even though they are the one’s who desperately  need love, care, and support. 67% of parents who are involved in the child welfare system abuse alcohol or drugs. Many times, this leads to the children being “parentified.” In other words, they are forced to take on the responsibilities and duties of a parent such as feeding their siblings and taking care of them and finding ways to earn money to support the family  (Dinitto & McNeece, 2008 p. 241).

5. Thankfully, there are many outlets out there to help children who are being abused or neglected. For example, for family preservation, the Promoting Safe and Stable Families Program of 1997 “allows states to use federal funds to keep the child safe at home while providing support services to the family, which may include program to strengthen parental relationships” (Dinitto & McNeece, 2008 p. 249). In addition, there are churches out there who will provide space and support to social workers who seek out families who need help. Foster care is another route and there are 500,000 children in the foster care system in the U.S. on any given day. In addition, there is adoption; 2% of American children currently live in adoptive families. There is also kinship care as well as group and residential care (Dinitto & McNeece, 2008 p. 255).


DiNitto, D. M., & McNeece, C. A. (2008). Social Work: Issues and opportunities in a challenging profession. Lyceum Books, (3rd Edition).

5 Facts You Should Know About Substance Use & Abuse in the Social Work Field

  1. While 3/4 of members of the National Association of Social Workers have helped clients suffering from an alcohol or drug problem, only 3% of licensed social workers specialize in addictions as their primary practice (DiNitto & McNeece, 2008, p.171).

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2. Since the 1800s, social workers have been helping people who suffer from addictions. However, back then majority of people viewed alcoholism as a sin or moral problem. (DiNitto & McNeece, 2008, p.172).

3. What is interesting is that younger people are more likely than those who are older to experience problems with inhalants. Older adults are more susceptible to problems from prescription drugs. What accounts for this is the fact that older adults tend to take more prescribed medications (DiNitto & McNeece, 2008, p.174).

4. About 10% of the “U.S. population meets the criteria for substance abuse or dependence.” Furthermore, there are 15 million people who have an alcohol use disorder, 4 million people suffering from a drug use disorder, and 3 million who suffer from both. Unfortunately, most people do not receive the treatment they so desperately need due to monetary component or due to the fact that they don’t think they have a problem (DiNitto & McNeece, 2008, p.176).

5. An addiction to alcohol or drugs is not the only addiction; there is pathological gambling, compulsive eating, compulsive shopping or spending, compulsive sexual behavior, and excessive internet use (DiNitto & McNeece, 2008, p.177).


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



5 Things You Need To Know About Military Social Work – Allie Dashow

  1. Working in the military can obviously result in life-long issues such as PTSD. The good news is that trained social workers who specialize in this field can use evidence based treatment such as CBT, CPT, and exposure therapy. PTSD can be triggered by sounds, places, and visuals. Something you may not know is that it can also be triggered by food. As one can imagine, PTSD can permeate one’s life in so many areas and be quite debilitating (Connie Sturgeon).

2. Something you should know is that there is something called Secondary PTSD. Basically, this is when a veteran’s PTSD negatively effects their spouse and can put the spouse at risk for mental health issues. Connie Studgeon, a licensed clinical social worker at the Binghamton Vet Center, has had many clients who have been married 2, 3, or even 4 times. The spouse may have a difficult time dealing with the partner’s anger management issues, nightmares, and so on and so forth (Connie Sturgeon)

3. For those who have never individually experienced PTSD, it may be hard to wrap your head around what it feels like. Imagine this: you go away somewhere, wherever it may be, as one person and you come back as a different person. Once you come back, you constantly have two “individuals” in your brain; one being yourself and the other being the PTSD. Connie Studgeon will help the vets learn to cope with the symptoms which will in turn allow them to live a more normal functional life (Connie Sturgeon).

4. If you plan to be a social workers in this field there are 3 VERY important things you need:

  1. Intuition: if you have good intuition, Connie Studgeon suggests to follow your gut and not to question your instincts.
  2. Flexibility: each veteran has a different story, different experience, and is all around just a different person. It is imperative that you tailor the treatment based upon the veteran and his or her needs; you cannot always just go by the book.
  3. Active Listening: you need to really listen to the people talking to you because they know themselves best. You need to let them know you are here for them and that if they decide not to speak the truth it is going to hurt them more than it will hurt you (Connie Sturgeon).

5. As you know, social workers are not robots; they have emotions and reactions. While they love what they do, it can still be somewhat emotionally draining and take a toll on the social workers themselves. Therefore, they have weekly clinical supervision as well as team meetings in order to debrief and talk about particular difficult cases. Furthermore, they will even practice mindfulness themselves in order to help them cope (Connie Sturgeon).

5 Setting that Social Workers Work in within the Health-Care Setting – Allie Dashow

  1. There is a strong need for social workers within the health care system. For example, people whose kidneys are failing typically go on a wait list in order to receive a transplant. Because this can take such a toll on a patient as well as his or her family, nephrology social workers will help those suffering and address their physical, emotional, and social stresses. That includes dealing with the financial burdens, “interruptions in employment, changes in social functioning, demanding and time-consuming treatment regimens, and shortened life expectancy” (DiNitto & McNeece, 2008, p. 208).

2. We all know professionals in the health-care setting who say the wrong thing to the wrong person.That is not to bash medical professionals, but to point out that there is a need for people who know the right and wrong things to say. That is where social workers come in in regards to the LGBTQ community. There are health clinics out there who have social workers whom are culturally sensitive to help a patient’s physical as well as emotional well being. They do this by offering many types of support groups as well as individual counseling (DiNitto & McNeece, 2008, p. 208).

3. Interestingly enough, not as many people are admitted into hospitals today as they used to be and their stays aren’t as long. Unfortunately, though, this is not due to an increase in people’s health but due to the fact that many procedures are now done in an outpatient setting. Therefore, patients who are admitted into the hospital are sicker than they were in the past. Thus, there is a high need for social workers in hospital settings (DiNitto & McNeece, 2008, p. 208-209).

4. A subacute or transitional care unit is where patients go once they are well enough to leave the hospital but too sick to return home. Social workers help in the process of this transition by providing counseling to the patients and their families to address the physical and mental challenges that come along with the patient’s illness or condition (DiNitto & McNeece, 2008, p. 209).

5. Social workers are also involved in hospice which happens within a patient’s home. The “hospice mission embodies the spirit o medical social work” (DiNitto & McNeece, 2008, p. 212). Social workers value self-determination and try to help the individual retain his or her dignity. Additionally, they try their best to provide the social support the patient and his or her family needs. While this is obviously a very tough job to have, social workers are helping improve a patient’s mental well-being as much as possible before they pass (DiNitto & McNeece, 2008, p.212).


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

The Three Perspectives on Poverty in the U.S. Which do you agree with? – Allie Dashow

At this point in time, there is roughly 3 million Americans who are homeless. 3 million people shivering, hungry, and hurting both physically and mentally. (Baggett, 2010). Why is that? Well I’m about to tell you three possible explanations!!!

  1. The Individual Explanation: This perspective suggests that homelessness is due to “personal failings” which includes genetic inferiority. I don’t know about you, but I certainly do not think that is the reason why there are 3 million people on the street. In fact, social workers argue that there is no evidence to suggest that genetic inferiority is even a thing!!! Another individual explanation suggests that people are unable to function due to psychological reasons, and are therefore viewed and stereotyped as unmotivated, lazy, or irresponsible. This implies that poverty is a conscious choice… (DiNitto & McNeece, 2008, PG. 293-294).

2. The Cultural Explanation: Oscar Lewis studied poverty and introduced the idea of a “culture of poverty” which consists of certain beliefs and behaviors that the poor possess that are different from those who are not poor. Furthermore, he believes these beliefs and behaviors are passed down from one generation to the next because the children are socialized to live in this state. He proposed there are 4 categories that describe poverty:

  1. People who do not belong to any form of an organization or group are not immersed in the larger culture and thus do not reap the benefits of having a strong social support system, network, or resources. As a result, they distrust social institutions.
  2. Communities that consist of those who are not that financially stable lack organization and activities outside of the family. Therefore, the town or city lacks quality public and social services, schools, and safety.
  3. Families that do not play a part in a child’s health are more likely to raise a child who becomes pregnant at an early age which results in many single parents who lack the resources needed to raise children.
  4. People living in poverty tend to have weak egos, poor impulse control, and tend to feel doomed. (DiNitto & McNeece, 2008, PG. 294-295).

3. Structural Explanation: This theory proposes that poverty is a result of failings in the larger social and economic systems. Poverty cannot be addressed without changing society’s and the economy’s structure because people are almost set up to fail. It is not people themselves that result in failure but it i due to political, social, and economic factors. For instance, there is institutional discrimination in the forms of sexism and racism which has been a huge issue. Additionally, women are still not treated as men’s equals and earn a median annual income that is way lower then men’s. Furthermore, white men earn more money then any other racial group. Institutional racism is also extremely prevalent which is a harder issue to tackle since it is embedded in society. Lastly, poor neighborhoods tend to suffer from undesirable facilities being opened there (DiNitto & McNeece, 2008, PG. 295-297).

At the end of the day, it is clear that there is no clear cut theory surrounding homelessness. We can go back and forth debating what it is deeply rooted from and while that is important, this is just as important:

Works Cited:

Baggett, T. P. (2010). The Unmet Health Care Needs of Homeless Adults: A National Study. American Journal of Public Health, 100(7), 1326-1331. Retrieved February 24, 2016.

DiNitto, D. M., & McNeece, C. A. (2008). Social Work Issues and Opportunities (3rd ed.). Chicago, IL: Lyceum Books.

5 Facts You Should Know About The Juvenile Justice System – Allie Dashow

  1. Interestingly enough, for the past century juveniles have been treated differently than adults who have also committed crimes. Some argue that the reason for this is that a child is not fully developed and therefore has more potential to change. If he or she is provided with the appropriate and needed services one might not need, it is believed that that child will not turn back to crime again in the future. Because the child has not fully matured, some say they are less responsible for their actions. Is this true? Is this fair? (DiNitto & McNeece, 2008, p. 325).

2. Also, did you know that there are three different types of categories a juvenile may it into within the court system? Those include dependent or neglected, a status offender, or delinquent. A status offender would include running away or missing school, or essentially something that would not be considered a crime if it was committed by an adult. However, a delinquent act is something that would be considered a crime if it was committed by an adult (DiNitto & McNeece, 2008, p. 325).

3. In regards to crime rates, “in 2002 the juvenile arrest rate for violent crimes was the lowest it had been since 1980.” (DiNitto & McNeece, 2008, p. 325). I wonder why that is. Furthermore, the crime rate in 2002 was half of what the crime rate was in 1994! (Snyder, 2004).  However, juveniles account for 17% of all arrests. Additionally, the female juvenile offender population is “growing at a faster rate than the male offender population” (DiNitto & McNeece, 2008, p. 325). However, maybe this is due to the fact that more females are being arrested nowadays than compared to the past.

4. It is most common for juvenile offenders to end up with probation. However, a large portion of them end up in residential settings such as detention centers, training schools,or group homes, camps, and ranches (DiNitto & McNeece, 2008, p. 328).

5. Unfortunately, akin to the adult offender population, there are more juvenile offenders of color placed in residential centers as opposed to those who are white. Furthermore, back in 2003 2/3 of those juveniles in custody were minorities (DiNitto & McNeece, 2008, p. 328).


DiNitto, D., & McNeece, C. (2008). Social work: Issues and opportunities in a
          challenging profession (3rd ed.). Chicago, IL: Lyceum Books
Snyder, H. N. (2004, September). Juvenile Arrests 2002. Retrieved February 18, 2016, from https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/ojjdp/204608.pdf

8 Important Facts about IPV that you may Not Know – Allie Dashow

  1. Although most people now are aware of what domestic violence is, that has not always been the case. Before the 1960’s, intimate personal violence was not really spoken about. That all changed in the 1970’s once the Women’s Movements brought it to light (Murphy & Ouimet, 2008, p. 309).

2. An astronomical, and very depressing, number of 4.8 million physical assaults and rapes against women happen per year. In addition, it is important to note that domestic violence is NOT only a women’s issue. 2.9 million assault also happen against men every year. And it is important to recognize that just because more women experience IPV than men does not mean we should only focus on IPV among women (Murphy & Ouimet, 2008, p. 309).

 3. Intimate partner violence is serious. There is a whole host of issues and injuries that come along as a result of this issue. These include bruises, cuts, broken bones, head trauma, chronic pain, vaginal bleeding and infections, sexually transmitted diseases, headaches, gastrointestinal problems, and even death. This is not something to be taken lightly, and it is something that needs to be spoken about (Murphy & Ouimet, 2008, p. 309).

4. I wish I could say that the problems stop there, but that is not the case. Physical abuse is just one aspect of IPV. Many victims develop anxiety disorders, depression, eating disorders, “posttraumatic stress disorder, low-self esteem, bad body image, self-perceived poor health, and feat of intimacy.” That does not even include the fear that comes along as being a victim of domestic violence (Murphy & Ouimet, 2008, p. 309).

5. When it comes to screening for IPV, medical professionals are not doing what they need to be doing. Only very few hospital emergency rooms in the U.S actually comply with the national mandate for routine screening. Shockingly, one study showed that only 37% of women were screened for IPV and only 1% were even given any information about this issue. I know when I read those numbers I was shocked. We like to think that doctors comply with all the rules placed upon them but that is not the reality (Murphy & Ouimet, 2008, p. 310).

6. IPV consists of four different phases, or a cycle: the honeymoon phase, the tension-building phase, the explosion phase, and reconciliation. Typically, it takes 5-7 incidents for a partner to finally leave the relationship. And we hope that the partner ends up leaving before it is too late (Vassello, 2016, Slide 5).

7. We need to remember that IPV does not have to be physical, it can be psychological. The perpetrator may threaten the victim, play mind games, criticize his or her partner, and a whole bunch of other tactics which is considered abuse (Murphy & Ouimet, 2008, p. 309).

8. Lastly, 1 in 3 adolescent girls in the United States is a victim of either physical, emotional, or verbal abuse from their partner. That means that it is highly possible that one of your best friends have suffered from one of these things (Vassello, 2016, Slide 11).


Murphy, S., & Ouimet, L. (2008). Intimate Partner Violence: A Call for Social Work Action. Health & Social Work, 33(4), 309-314. Retrieved February 10, 2016.

Vassello. J. (2016). IPV Powerpoint. Slides 5, 11. Retrieved February, 10, 2016.