Fielder, Nichole - Mental Health / Substance Abuse Case Worker

From What can you do with a degree in psychology?

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[edit] Job Title

Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Worker

[edit] General Overview

A Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Worker provides both assessment and treatment for those who suffer from mental, emotional, and/or substance abuse problems[1]. Examples of substances commonly abused and therefore treated by mental health and substance abuse social workers include alcohol, tobacco, stimulants, cannabinoids, opioids and hallucinogens. A mental health and substance abuse social worker performs an assessment upon introduction with a patient in order to understand the severity of the addiction and/ or psychiatric diagnosis[2]. A treatment plan that is patient specific is then created. Activities and effective treatment approaches that may be included in a mental health and/ or substance abuse treatment plan include the administration of medication, cognitive-behavioral therapy, individual therapy, and/ or multidimensional family therapy[3].

[edit] Job Duties and Responsibilities

A mental health and substance abuse social worker is responsible for administering treatment both alone and with teams/others in order to assist the patient in coping with their illness and/or substance abuse[1]. In order to administer the most effective form of treatment, a mental health and substance abuse social worker must screen the client and review archival data about both them and their family history. These records will allow the mental health and substance abuse social worker to understand the biological vulnerability that runs throughout the family. In addition, a mental health and substance abuse social worker is responsible for encouraging client adherence. This adherence is encouraged by educating the client and surrounding social supports about the illness, providing the patient with scheduled appointments and a form of transportation to the appointments, and through verbal support. Furthermore, a mental health and substance abuse social worker is responsible for monitoring and recording the client’s progress within the specified treatment plan and modifying the treatment plan according to such observations. In order to make sure that they continue to provide adequate and up to date care, a mental health and substance abuse social worker needs to continuously increase their knowledge about social work by going over the latest literature, conducting personal research, and attending training workshops[1].

[edit] Typical Workday

Typical settings that a mental health and substance abuse social worker may work in include a hospital, a clinic, a nursing home, a mental health clinic, a school, a college or university, a veterans clinic, a child welfare agency, or a private practice[4]. Within all of these settings a mental health and substance abuse social worker will spend the majority of their time in an office setting, although will also spend time outside of the office visiting clients. The type of clients that mental health and substance abuse social workers attend to include those with a psychiatric disorder and/ or a substance problem. The majority of mental health and substance abuse social workers work full time hours, and will often work late into the evenings, weekends and on holidays in order to provide adequate support to all of their clients. Approximately 70.09% of mental health and substance abuse social workers work forty hours per week[5]. During this forty hour workweek, many mental health and substance abuse social workers spend their days providing clients with information on services, assessing current and new clients, facilitating both individual and group therapy sessions, monitoring and recording client progress, modifying treatment plans, and engaging in activities that will lead to greater client adherence. However, a mental health and substance abuse social worker’s typical workday is dependent on whether they work in a rural or urban area. All social workers often face challenges when responding to clients who live in rural areas compared to those who live in urban areas. Social workers who practice and provide care in rural areas often handle many clients at one time simply because there is an insufficient amount of social workers practicing in rural areas[6].

[edit] Educational Requirements and Other Qualifications

The educational requirements to become a mental health and substance abuse social worker include a bachelor’s degree in either social work, psychology or sociology and a master’s degree in social work (MSW) with two years of experience post-masters having worked in a supervised clinical setting[7]. A master’s in social work typically takes two years, however there are certain programs that allow individuals with a bachelor’s degree to fast track and finish a master’s in one year. Those who complete relevant volunteer experience, such as volunteering at a nursing home, local non-profit organizations or working with a social work professor throughout their education, tend to impress admission committees and therefore increase their likelihood of being accepted into a master’s program. In addition to educational requirements, all states necessitate that all mental health and substance abuse social workers obtain a license. A license is obtained once they have completed their clinical supervised experience and pass a clinical exam[7]. Seeing as licensing stipulations vary by state, each state has different requirements for when the license must be renewed.

Links to some Universities that offer a bachelor’s degree in either social work, psychology or sociology:

Brock University Psychology Undergraduate Degree

Brock University Sociology Undergraduate Degree

York University Social Work Degree

Ryerson University Social Work Degree

University of Waterloo Social Work Degree

Links to some Universities that offer a master’s in social work:

Ryerson University

York University

Wilfrid Laurier University

[edit] Related Skills, Interests and Abilities

A transferable skill that a mental health and substance abuse social worker needs to have in order to do their job well is the ability to form interpersonal relationships. A mental health and substance abuse social worker interacts with many individuals each day, including both clients and colleagues, and therefore needs to be able to form healthy and productive relationships. Once healthy and productive relationships are formed, social perceptiveness kicks in and allows for a mental health and substance abuse social worker to understand other’s reactions. A mental health and substance abuse social worker must also demonstrate organizational skills. The ability to be organized allows a mental health and substance abuse social worker to manage multiple clients at one time and still be able to provide them all with adequate care[8]. Having the ability to communicate and listen effectively also allows a mental health and substance abuse social worker to perform their job well. Effectively conveying information to others will allow for better client adherence because the client will understand what is being asked of them. Furthermore, by actively listening to clients, a mental health and substance abuse social worker will be able to then offer assistance once they have heard and understand the challenges that their clients are facing. In addition to skills, when a mental health and substance abuse social worker has the ability to be compassionate they are able to develop stronger relationships and be empathetic towards their clients.

[edit] Relevance of Psychology Undergraduate Degree

During a psychology undergraduate degree program it is important to retain knowledge about John Bowlby’s attachment theory. By having knowledge about the four components involved in forming a healthy attachment relationship, a mental health and substance abuse social worker will then know how to assist and support their clients in ways that offer a sense of “felt security” and allow the clients to look towards them as a secure base and safe haven in a time of distress. A psychology undergraduate degree program may focus on the concept of differential susceptibility. This concept, proposed by Jay Belsky, suggests that individuals differentiate how they are affected by both positive and negative experiences. This theory is relevant to a mental health and substance abuse social worker because they are then able to understand the individual differences of their clients and that some clients are more susceptible than others. Knowing whether a client is susceptible or not will influence the type of treatment that a mental health and substance abuse social worker will administer. Having gained knowledge about psychoanalytic theory, specifically about the use of defense mechanisms, will also allow a mental health and substance abuse social worker to understand how their clients use coping methods to distort reality in order to defend their actions.

[edit] Salary Potential

The annual compensation for a mental health and substance abuse social worker varies by state. For the past eleven years, the annual salary for this occupation has been increasing. In the United States, the average annual compensation for a mental health and substance abuse social worker in 2012 was approximately $43,340[9]. The average hourly wage in the United States for a mental health and substance abuse social worker in the year 2012 was approximately $20.84. In Canada, the average hourly wage for a social worker during the year 2012 was approximately $30.28[10]. The annual compensation for this occupation depends on which type of setting you work in. For example, those who work in a psychiatric hospital or a general hospital are expected to earn above the annual mean, earning anywhere from $48,960-$51,250 a year.

[edit] Job Outlook

The demand for mental health and substance abuse social workers is expected to grow by 23% between the years 2012 and 2022. This projected demand for mental health and substance abuse social workers over the next seven years is due to the increase in individuals who are in need of treatment for a mental illness and/or substance abuse problem[11]. Nowadays, those who have a substance abuse problem are more likely to be sent to a treatment program rather than to jail. Therefore, the need for mental health and substance abuse social workers will increase. Due to an insufficient amount, mental health and substance abuse social workers are in high demand in rural areas.

[edit] To Know More

http://www.socialworklicensure.org/types-of-social-workers/mental-health-substance-abuse.html


[edit] Notes and References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers: Job Description. (n.d.). Retrieved February 11, 2015, from http://www.myplan.com/careers/mental-health-and-substance-abuse-social-workers/description-21-1023.00.html
  2. Integrated Screening & Assessment for Mental Health and Addiction Services Concurrent Disorders.(2007). Retrieved February 11, 2015, from https://www.saskatoonhealthregion.ca/locations_services/Services/mhas/Documents/ResourcesforProfessionals/CompleteScreeningDocumentJanuary2007_2_.pdf
  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction. (2009). Retrieved from http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/treatment-approaches-drug-addiction on February 11, 2015
  4. Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers: Articles. (n.d.). Retrieved February 11, 2015, from http://www.myplan.com/careers/mental-health-and-substance-abuse-social-workers/articles-21-1023.00.html?art=3
  5. Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers. (n.d.). Retrieved February 11, 2015, from http://www.myfuture.com/careers/details/mental-health-and-substance-abuse-social-workers_21-1023.00
  6. Scales, T. L., Streeter, C. L., & Cooper, H. S. (Eds.). (2013). Rural Social Work: Building and Sustaining Community Capacity. John Wiley & Sons. (Chapter 21) Retrieved from https://books.google.ca/books?id=BL3avUNzDYC&pg=PT444&dq=social+work+in+rural+and+urban+areas&hl=en&sa=X&ei=Qa7bVLy_NozesASN4YCIDA&ved=0CDkQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=social%20work%20in%20rural%20and%20urban%20areas&f=false
  7. 7.0 7.1 Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers. (n.d.). Retrieved February 11, 2015, from http://www.myfuture.com/careers/education/mental-health-and-substance-abuse-social-workers_21-1023.00
  8. Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers. (n.d.). Retrieved February 11, 2015, from http://www.myfuture.com/careers/details/mental-health-and-substance-abuse-social-workers_21-1023.00
  9. Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers: Salaries. (n.d.). Retrieved February 11, 2015, from http://www.myplan.com/careers/mental-health-and-substance-abuse-social-workers/salary-21-1023.00.htm
  10. Explore Career-Wage Report. (2014, March 10). Retrieved March 26, 2015, from Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers: Job Outlook. (n.d.). Retrieved February 11, 2015, from http://www.myfuture.com/careers/growth/mental-health-and-substance-abuse-social-workers_21-1023.00
  11. Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers: Job Outlook. (n.d.). Retrieved February 11, 2015, from http://www.myfuture.com/careers/growth/mental-health-and-substance-abuse-social-workers_21-1023.00
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