3 Fun Facts About Mental Health Social Work

By Sam Engel

When most people think “social worker”, they think “therapist.” Obviously, we have learned otherwise throughout the duration of the course, however mental health plays a huge role in the social work profession. In fact, social workers are an integral mental health professional in the health care system. Here’s 3 fun facts about mental health in social work!!

  1. Pediatric mental health is often a priority for social workers. They often work with children, but what’s even more important is that about half of all mental health disorders appear by age 14, and almost 75% of mental health disorders by age 24 (DiNitto & McNeece, 2008, p. 153). The earlier a social worker can recognize a mental illness, the earlier they can help their client cope, live with, and potentially treat their disorder. Lack of preventative care is a huge issue in the health care system, and leads to a plethora of unnecessary funds!!
  2. Mental Illness is prevalent among the homeless. Correlation is not causation, and being homeless definitely does not cause a mental illness. However, 20-25% of the homeless have a major mental illness (DiNitto & McNeece, 2008, p.154-155). Having a mental illness is understandably difficult to cope with, and could even make it difficult to function in society. This, coupled with difficult circumstances, can make an individual become homeless.
  3. There is a huge demand for mental health in social work. That’s because 46% of all Americans experience some form of mental illness throughout their lifetime (DiNitto & McNeece, 2008, p. 145). That’s roughly 151 million people in the United States!! That’s certainly going to need a lot of social workers!

4 Ways Social Work in Health Care is Imperative

Social work in health care is more important than you think. Social workers in this field use problem solving methods to assist individuals, families, groups and communities in solving a wide range of health problems. Here are four ways in which social work in healthcare is imperative:

  1. The American Hospital Association reports that they have social workers in 75% of their hospitals. Social workers services are needed in hospitals for multiple reasons: the importance of all the patient’s needs, patients that require financial help and social service workers create essential links to the community. Because of this, social workers should be in 100% of hospitals. 200.gif
  2. Changes in healthcare have impacted the roles and responsibilities of both the patient and the provider. A need for new roles, new models of treatment, new professional competencies and improved training. Social workers in healthcare provide patients, especially those who have chronic health conditions, a different, more suiting, model of treatment that consists of more collaboration between patients and providers. 200-1.gif
  3. Social work is involved at various levels of prevention: primary, secondary and tertiary. Primary can include health education, encouraging immunizations, and practicing good mental health in families. Secondary includes encouraging treatment, checkups and early screening programs for detection of possible disease. Tertiary (or rehabilitation) includes preventing further deterioration of a disease or problem. Social work services in healthcare is imperative in order to increase prevention. 200-3.gif
  4. And as always, social work in healthcare reflects a range of responsibilities and functions. This can include the promotion of equality of opportunity, the advancement of social change, and the task of challenging injustice. The need for social workers to provide this advocacy is imperative because if this does not happen, patient care can be compromised by seven common problems that may go unaddressed. In order to assure that consumers will receive funding for care, quality care, protection of their ethical rights, access to services, and receive proper attention to their mental health needs, advocacy is a no-brainer.200-4.gifSources: All information comes from John Vassello’s “Social Work in Health Care” Powerpoint.

Six Mind-blowing Facts about Prisons in the U.S.

Prisoners are now seen as an economic opportunity. Money that could be provided for more schools, colleges, housing and health care is being used to build more prisons; “there just isn’t enough to go around.” Here are six facts that show the truth behind prisons.

  1. On average, 80% of new prison jobs go to folks who don’t live, or pay taxes, in the prison town. For example, a new prison in Delano, CA created 1,600 new jobs. Only 79 positions went to local residents.
  2. Typically, prisons attract chain stores, which pushes out locally-owned businesses. Prisons are not very good economic development strategies because they create few links to the local economy. They generally order food and supplies from centralized state warehouses – not local grocery or hardware stores. 200-3.gif
  3. There are blocks in Brooklyn, NY and many other places where the government is spending $1 million a year. Not on rehabilitation programs, education, job training, or health care. It’s being spent on imprisonment- another problem, not a solution. 98% of people return to that same block. They return jobless, without effective drug counseling or affordable housing. So, does it really make sense to spend $1 million this way?200.gif
  4. In the United States, 58% of people in prison are in for non-violent drug offenses. 200-1.gif
  5. In New York, 75% of prisoners come from SEVEN African-American and Latino neighborhoods. Yet, there is little evidence that removing so many people from a community makes it safer.
  6. Two in three people will end up back in prison – half of these due to a parole violation, not a new crime. When you place people in prison, you put them on a road that is very hard to get off. They can no longer vote, provide for their families, and often have trouble finding jobs after they are released. 200-2.gif


All information comes from Prison Town, the real cost of prisons project.

6 Facts You May Not Know About IPV

Intimate Partner Violence has two widely accepted definitions. The World Health Organization defines it as: “Any behavior within an intimate relationship that causes physical, psychological or sexual harm to those in the relationship”. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines it as: “A pattern of coercive behaviors that may include repeated battering and injury, psychological abuse, sexual assault, progressive social isolation, deprivation and intimidation”. In simpler terms, Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) is one person exhibiting power and control over another . Here are 6 facts you may not know about IPV:

  1. There are 4 main phases in the cycle of Intimate Partner Violence. They are the Honeymoon Phase, Tension-Building Phase, Explosive Phase, and Reconciliation. 200-4.gif
  2. IPV victims can include female victims of male perpetrators, male victims of female perpetrators, males or females in homosexual relationships, and adolescents. Intimate Partner Violence does not judge; ANYONE can be a victim.200-1.gif
  3. An estimated 1.5 MILLION women and 830,000 men are physically or sexually assaulted by an intimate partner  in the United States each year. 200.gif
  4. A social worker that works in IPV works to raise awareness through education, performing universal assessments, risk assessments, intervention and counseling.200-2.gif
  5. #1 reason people stay in abusive relationships: for the kids. #1 reason people leave abusive relationships: for the kids. There may be a need to keep a family together, the importance of a parental figure or the fear of CPS involvement that could result in a loss of custody.
  6. 200-3.gif6. Other reasons individuals may not seek help can be due to individual barriers such as: low self-esteem, guilt, self-blame, fear of reprisal, gender considerations, failure to recognize violence as a problem, conflicting emotional states or practical concerns like unemployment and financial dependence. There are also societal/cultural barriers to seeking help. These include language barriers, consequences related to immigration status and invalidation by peers and family. Lastly, systemic barriers to seeking help consist of the belief that the legal system is not helpful, lack of health care provider knowledge, or the cost of medical care.  200w.gif


All information is from John Vassello’s Week 3: Intimate Partner Violence Powerpoint.

5 Reasons Why Leadership in Social Work is More Important than You Think

There are a couple of elements in social work that make leadership an imperative part of any position in the field. Leadership roles in social work come with the responsibility to work creatively and effectively with individuals, groups, organizations, and communities to promote social justice, address problems, and be a catalyst for positive change. Leadership is important in social work for a number of reasons:

  1. Communication. Leaders in social work need to know how to effectively communicate with different groups of people. Through communication, leaders establish a mutual respect, acceptance, and trust with their clients and colleagues. Also, communication is extremely important in interpreting the mission of the profession to the public. (Leadership Definition and Elements)



2. Values & Ethics. Part of a leader’s role is to activate the values of the profession, demonstrate ethical behavior, and further the goals of the profession. The National Association of Social Workers has established a Code of Ethics that represents the values that social work stands for. These core values include: service, social justice, dignity and worth of the person, importance of human relationships, integrity, and competence. (NASW Code of Ethics)


3. Vision. It is important for leaders in social work to have a vision and constantly be working towards that vision. Leaders must be willing and able to translate their visions to goals and encourage others to want to achieve these goals. They must also be able to understand and forecast future directions. #GOALS. (Leadership Definition and Elements)


4. Teamwork and Collaboration. A leader is responsible for using supervision and consultation appropriate to social work practice, in addition to the responsibilities listed above. They establish effective relationships that facilitate planned change and advances in visions. Leaders are expected to treat colleagues with respect and accurately represent the qualifications, views, and obligations of colleagues. Forming these relationships makes a leader’s job much more meaningful, and a whole lot easier. (Leadership Definition and Elements)200-3.gif

5. Empowerment. As a leader, it is always important to empower both your clients and your colleagues. Improving the circumstances of your clients and encouraging the best work from your colleagues are two important aspects that comes with authority. (Leadership Definition and Elements)


Works Cited:

N. (n.d.). Code of Ethics. Retrieved from https://www.socialworkers.org/pubs/code/code.asp

U. (n.d.). Leadership Definition and Elements. Retrieved February, 2016, from https://ssw.unc.edu/files/web/pdf/LeadershipDefinitionandElements.pdf
John Vassello, Week 2 Leadership Powerpoint.


5 Unique Facts About Rural Social Work!

(1) President Theodore Roosevelt was the founder of much early social work and in particular, focused on national concern about life in rural areas. He began touching on these issues with conferences that took place in the white house. These conferences led to the creation of child protective services and eventually social security. His efforts have led to the creation and expansion of rural social work (Ginsberg, 2011).


(2) The concept of bartering is something unique to social workers working in rural areas. Bartering is simply the exchange of goods or services as payment for treatment. It should be noted that goods are preferred over services. It should also be noted that the NASW suggests using this form of payment as a last resort. The social worker will carry the full burden if this exchange ends up being detrimental to the client – social worker relationship (Croxton, Jayaratne, & Mattison, 2002).


(3) Rural social work encompasses many fields of practice. Therefore, it has been predicted that it will continue to grow in the areas that social work is expected to grow in. In order to promote positive growth for rural social work, social workers should work to emphasize community based approaches and incorporate newer technology to enhance the services they can provide to individuals in rural settings (Murty, 2005).


(4) Within rural communities, it is likely that everyone knows each other, due to the strong sense of community engagement and concern for communal well-being. As a result, social workers are likely to face the challenge of dual relationships, in which they must learn to set clear boundaries with clients they may see in public places or receive additional services from (DiNitto & McNeece, 2008,  p. 350).


(5) Rural communities often have much less movement of individuals into and out of the community in comparison to more urban areas. Because of this, problems within rural communities frequently become generational. This may seem like a daunting trend for social workers to overcome, but it also creates a unique opportunity for rural social workers to make very lasting change within a family or throughout the community (Colleen Cunningham Rozelle).


Works Cited

Colleen Cunningham Rozelle

Croxton, T. A., Jayaratne, S., & Mattison, D. (2007). Social Work Practice Behaviors and Beliefs: Rural-Urban Differences? In Advances in Social Work (2nd ed., Vol. 3, pp. 117-132). Indianapolis, IA: Indiana University.

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

Ginsberg, L. H. (2011). Social Work in Rural Communities (5th ed.). Alexandria, VA: Council on Social Work Education.

Murty, S. A. (2005). The Future of Rural Social Work. Advances in Social Work, 6(1), 132-144. Retrieved April 27, 2016.

10 Facts About Group Therapy!

  1. It is very important for group social workers to be in touch with themselves, as they are only able to connect with group members if they are fully aware of their own identity and understand their own values, feelings, and perspectives.


2. Group social workers use activities such as drama, role playing, cooking, music, art, and a variety of other group activities in order to aid in some of the goals and purposes of the group. Activities such as these can be used among all different age group as long as there is a purpose for the members.


3. It is often challenging and draining for group social workers to keep their own sanity while listening to people’s stories, which are often sorrowful and tragic. Nevertheless, it is recommended that social workers lead a balanced life and focus on finding happiness (David, 2016, Personal Communication).


4. Currently, there are a variety of uses for group social work which includes industrial social work, gerontology, family-child welfare, health, education and mental health (Helen & Kurland, 2001, p. 8).


5. It is often hard to execute strengths based therapy when clients have engaged in behavior that goes against the moral beliefs of group social worker. If the group social worker cannot separate their own opinions a hostile environment may be created: the social worker may feel threatened by the group or the group may feel judged by the social worker.


6. Role-playing is the most common form of group exercise. Since most of the clients are used to be told to stop doing what they are doing, the group and the counselor start with the advantages of the behavior. This shows that they understand the importance of the behavior in the person’s life. From there, everyone works together to see how it may affect the client’s future goals. The clients are never told that they need to stop, they are just shown the benefits of stopping.


7. The first book to be published about group work was titled Group Work with American Youth, published in 1948 by Coyle (Helen & Kurland, 2001, p. 7).


8. Social workers must address both the group as a whole and the individuals in the group as clients. Understanding the dynamic between the professional and the client and the relationships among clients is key to having a well-functioning group.


9. The evidence-based technique of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is used to modify a patient’s behavior. It helps them to retrain the way they think so that they don’t fall victim to the same problems again. (Linehan, M.M, Dimeff, L.A, Reynolds, S.K, Comtois, K.A., Welch, S.S., Heagerty, P., Kivlahan, D.R. (2002))


10. Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) is a type of (CBT) in which patients are taught problem-solving strategies blended with acceptance-based strategies as well as tackling the co-existing multiple tensions present that are causing the problems. (Linehan, M.M, Dimeff, L.A, Reynolds, S.K, Comtois, K.A., Welch, S.S., Heagerty, P., Kivlahan, D.R. (2002))