Conclusion

Mental health social work is a broad, rather than a rigorous, church. Since the 1980s social workers have gained in professional status by the introduction of the roles of the approved social worker (or licensed to carry out civil commitment in the American context) and care co-ordinators. However, they have lost in terms of the scope of mental health social work, as the focus on being an approved social worker and/or care manager meant curtailing most other tasks and functions, notably counselling, group work, and community work.

Furthermore, the cost of closer collaboration within the multidisciplinary framework has led to the risk of giving up the attempt to hold on to, and further develop, an alternative perspective from that of psychiatrists and nurses.

The narrowness of the role is not simply the byproduct of the law. It is also due to the dire financial circumstances of social services departments in the last 20 years, the lack of sufficient social workers in any branch of the profession, the stereotyping of the role of social workers both by the majority of other professions and by social workers themselves, the highly individualistic ideology which frowned upon direct intervention at the community level, and the lack of focus on welfare rights and poverty prevention.

The increasing focus, due to government pressure, on people with long-term severe mental illness—and the interpretation of the work with this group as excluding the social perspective beyond the provision of housing and a place in a day centre—has contributed to the increasing narrowness of the role of social workers on both sides of the Atlantic. The parallel withdrawal of social work involvement with people who have milder forms of mental distress in the United Kingdom and its availability in the United States only to those rich enough to be insured is a reflection of this situation.

Social workers are unhappy with the current context; it is also likely that users and relatives are losing a useful resource. Furthermore, it is likely that in a number of cases mild mental illness develops into a much more severe type of distress and disability than if social workers were involved early on. Without the preventive measures offered by group work and community work more people will move from being at a low to a higher level of risk.

Throughout the development of British mental health social work it appears that major conceptual and research components were largely borrowed from the United States. The exception to this finding is the stronger emphasis among minority British professionals and academics on the social aspects of mental health social work.(34,36)

Unless theory building and research aspects are given the importance they deserve within British social work, including their inevitable critical dimension of the existing system, mental health social work is likely to be no more than a reflection of the developments in other professions. This will not only mean curtailing its autonomous potential, but will also deprive the multidisciplinary endeavour as a whole of a crucial dimension necessary for its comprehensive work.

The increased concentration of American mental health social workers within the private sector does not bode well for a profession whose value base focuses on the need to protect the more vulnerable and stigmatized populations, and to provide the dual perspectives of psychosocial input.

The attention to research and theory building, largely based within academic settings, does promise a more autonomous and richer professional development, but not necessarily one which is intuned to the needs and wishes of users of the service and their relatives.

The considerable difficulties which individual social workers face in contributing to policy making and in defending and expanding the psychosocial perspectives within the largely multidisciplinary settings in which they work(42,) are insufficiently compensated by the active role played by their respective national professional associations.

Mental health social work will have to develop its potential policy making function, as well as its conceptual and research base, if it is to provide a more responsive, effective, and comprehensive service to users, relatives, and the communities in which these people live.

Break Free From Passive Aggression

Break Free From Passive Aggression

This guide is meant to be of use for anyone who is keen on developing a better understanding of PAB, to help/support concerned people to discover various methods for helping others, also, to serve passive aggressive people as a tool for self-help.

Get My Free Ebook


Post a comment