Social work is a profession dedicated to good social welfare and positive social changes. “The academic discipline is dedicated to research and practice necessary to improve the quality of life and to develop the potential of each individual, group and community of a society” (Baerwald 615). Social workers can help improve and build communities by conducting research, teaching, and helping improve policies and community practices. Social workers are mostly concerned with human development but also research on other program evaluations and community development. They are organized into different bodies including local, national and international. Training to be a social worker involves being conversant with theories such as those addressing anti-racism, philosophy, psychology, education, health, and education among others.
Social workers are many times associated with charity but there is a broader perspective and understanding of the profession. It has its history in the struggle of communities to deal with discrimination and poverty in the early years. Today, social work is a profession that requires academic qualifications just like any other. The profession is about helping people who are facing hardships such as domestic conflicts, disabilities, spousal, and children abuse. Social workers, therefore, need to be people with big hearts who can face and help deal with sometimes devastating challenges.
Mental health social workers
My decision to be a social worker was driven by a desire to assist people by helping them solve issues in their day-to-day lives and cope with different challenges. Such includes dealing with personal problems and different relationships in society. As a social worker, it is wise to specialize in working with a particular population and problem to ensure effectiveness, experience, and perfection in the profession. Specialized categories include child and family, medical and public health, and mental health social workers among other types of social workers. My specialization is mental health social work. Mental social workers often serve in hospitals, institutions, and the community at large to help people with mental problems or those involved in substance abuse. People with mental illness and those struggling with substances need special attention, understanding, and care from both family and professionals.
As a mental social worker, I can help these groups of people through outreach, group therapies, social rehabilitation, crisis intervention, and other modes of intervention such as teaching. These processes are aimed at helping people with mental illness recover and get to a stable position. After they have recovered, people with mental illness and addicts need to be helped get back, adjust and cope in society. Self-esteem and believing in themselves is a big part of the process of recovery which is a critical responsibility of a social worker.
“A mental health social worker may work in inpatient programs where patients are under medical attention full time or in outpatient programs where the patients come for treatment and then leave” (Baerwald 623). As a social worker, I also have the opportunity to follow up on some of the patients and help them maintain stability even after recovery. In employee-assistance programs, a social worker can help people cope with job-related stress and other personal challenges which may affect their performance at work. Many employees may not have the ability to address family problems that they carry with them to work and are not able to focus.
There are many challenges in my profession. Mental health social workers are facing a challenge in the rapidly changing mental health environment. Social workers are required to adapt to the dramatic changes that have occurred since the beginning of community care for mental health patients. Initially, mental health patients were taken care of in various institutions but this is not the case anymore. Mental institutions are only for patients who are considered critical. Most mental patients are taken care of at home making it hard to cater to all of them.
The other challenge facing mental health social workers today is the fact that “psychiatric social work is considered a prestigious area of practice within the profession” (Baerwald 623). In the past, the presence of mental health social workers didn’t pose a challenge to psychiatrists. Today, psychiatrists feel their careers and work are threatened by the presence of many mental social workers, causing situations where they don’t give them the required support. As a result, mental health social workers are not able to provide their full potential contribution to the mental health field.
Another important challenge is salaries and varying job densities in different regions. I expect that the job would offer a salary of above $ 50,000. Unfortunately, statistics reveal that many states offer much less than this amount. Many states pay up to $ 40,000 while some pay their mental social worker as little as $28,000, an amount very little considering the responsibilities of a mental social worker. Job availability is also affected by different factors such as the economy of different states.
For one to qualify as a mental health social worker, a bachelor’s degree in social work is the minimum qualification. Some positions might, however, require an advanced degree qualification and sometimes both. In other circumstances, especially for community agencies, majors in sociology, psychology, and other related fields can qualify one for entry into the profession. Other than that, different states have other requirements which may differ from the states. Some may require a certificate, some licenses, and some registration with certain health bodies.
For someone who chooses to go into clinical work, a master’s degree in social work may be required. Most states may also require a specified number of years, usually two or more, of experience in a supervised clinical position. A bachelor’s degree in many colleges is considered enough to prepare future social workers for the basic skills such as service, working with people, dealing with culturally diverse populations especially today, professional ethics, personal values of a social worker, human behavior, justice, and many others skills which are critical for perfection in the profession.
I want to be a professional and committed social worker. The decision is my humble contribution to solving the many social challenges our country is facing today. Our country is facing an increasing population of the elderly meaning a bigger population of people who may not enjoy perfect mental stability. I would also love to help the many people suffering from high levels of stress and depression in our country. Stress and depression levels in the country continue to go up, raising the number of psychologically disturbed people. Being a social worker gives me a chance to help the increasing number of people abusing substances. I will have the opportunity to contribute my efforts by helping such people deal with different challenges that come along with mental disturbance. I will also be in a position to help families who may find it hard to adjust or even live with such people.
This is possible through increased awareness in societies over how to take care of mentally challenged people and addicts. It is also possible by pushing the government to raise awareness through training and educational programs. Policies concerned with mental health have to be adjusted to fit in education and awareness and ensure that people respect the rights of mentally ill people. It is my responsibility as a social worker to push for these developments and follow up on required changes now and then to suit the changing needs of the people.
Through collaboration and support of other non-governmental organizations, social workers can change or improve and touch the lives of millions of people who own their own may not have the capacity to access professional help for their problems. Communities make the foundation of a nation and if their needs are not appropriately addressed, there may not be much achieved at a national level. Social workers, therefore, have the privilege to work with the communities and bring positive change to children and adults’ lives and ensure development activities are not interfered with by problems that can be fully addressed or made easier to live with such as mental health.
Baerwald, Paul. “The changing role of the social worker in the mental health system.” Social Work Health Care 35:1 (2002): 615-632.