What's Here? - Table of Contents
The mental health crisis in the United States is a significant problem that affects both adults and children. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), in 2021:
As you can likely surmise, mental health problems are common and are having a significant impact on individuals and their families.
Mental health problems can range in severity, from mild to severe. Some people may experience symptoms that are relatively mild and manageable, while others may experience more severe symptoms that significantly interfere with their daily lives.
In the United States, mental health illnesses are defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which is published by the American Psychiatric Association. The DSM is a standard classification of mental disorders used by mental health professionals.
The DSM includes definitions and criteria for diagnosing mental disorders. For each disorder, the DSM includes a list of symptoms and a set of criteria that must be met in order to make a diagnosis. The DSM also includes information on the prevalence, course, and treatment of each disorder.
The DSM is revised periodically to reflect new research and developments in the field of mental health. The most recent version of the DSM is the DSM-5, which was published in 2013.
The DSM-5 organizes mental disorders into different categories based on the type of disorder and the specific symptoms that are present. Some of the main categories of disorders in the DSM-5 include:
Mental health issues are a significant problem in the United States. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), in 2021, an estimated 44.7 million adults in the United States (about 18.7% of the adult population) suffered from some form of a mental illness.
Among adults the most common mental health problems in the United States currently include:
** It is important to note that these figures are estimates and that the prevalence of mental health problems can vary depending on the methods used to collect and analyze data. Additionally, many people with mental health problems may not seek treatment, so the true prevalence of mental health problems in the United States may be higher.
Mental health problems are also a significant issue among children and young adults in the United States. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), in 2021:
Social workers play a critical role in addressing the mental health problem in the United States. They are trained professionals who help individuals, families, and communities to cope with and solve problems related to mental health, substance abuse, poverty, and other social issues. They provide a wide range of services, including counseling, advocacy, and support to people who are struggling with mental health problems.
More specifically, social workers provide the following services to address mental health problems acutely and from a macro perspective:
Social workers can provide individual, family, and group therapy to help people with mental health problems to cope with their symptoms and improve their well-being.
Social Workers Providing Counseling and Therapy
Here is an example of a social worker providing counseling and therapy to an individual with mental health problems:
Sarah is a social worker who works at a community mental health center. She has been seeing a client named John, who has been struggling with depression and anxiety. John has been feeling down and anxious for the past several months and has been having difficulty functioning at work and in his personal life.
Sarah meets with John once a week for individual therapy sessions. During these sessions, Sarah uses a variety of therapeutic techniques, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and mindfulness-based therapy, to help John understand and address his negative thoughts and behaviors.
Sarah helps John to identify the negative thought patterns that contribute to his depression and anxiety, and she helps him to develop strategies for challenging and changing these thoughts. She also helps John to learn mindfulness techniques, such as deep breathing and meditation, to help him manage his anxiety in the moment.
In addition to working with John in individual therapy sessions, Sarah also helps him to connect with other resources in the community that can support his mental health recovery. She helps him to find a support group for people with depression and anxiety and helps him to access resources for managing his finances and finding employment.
Through her work with John, Sarah is able to help him to better understand and manage his mental health problems and to improve his overall well-being.
This example illustrates the important role that social workers can play in providing counseling and therapy to individuals with mental health problems. Social workers are trained to use a variety of therapeutic techniques and approaches to help people understand and address their mental health problems and improve their overall well-being.
Social workers can help people with mental health problems to access the resources they need, such as medication, housing, and financial assistance.
Social Worker Providing Resources
Here is an example of a social worker connecting people with resources:
Samantha is a social worker who works at a community health center. She has been working with a client named Maria, who has been struggling with depression and anxiety. Maria has been having difficulty paying for her medications and has been struggling to find stable housing.
Samantha meets with Maria regularly to provide counseling and support. During their sessions, Samantha helps Maria to identify her goals and the resources she needs to achieve them. She assists Maria in accessing financial assistance programs to help her pay for her medications and in finding housing resources, such as shelters or affordable housing options.
Samantha also helps Maria to connect with other resources in the community that can support her mental health recovery, such as a support group for people with depression and anxiety. She helps Maria to access resources for managing her finances and finding employment, and she provides her with information on how to access mental health treatment if needed.
Through her work with Maria, Samantha is able to help her to address her immediate needs and to build a foundation for long-term recovery and well-being.
Social workers can work to advocate for policy changes that will improve mental health care in the United States, such as increasing funding for mental health services or reforming the mental health care system.
There are many ways that social workers can advocate for policy change to address the mental health crisis in the United States. Here are a few examples:
Social workers can help to raise awareness about mental health problems and the importance of seeking help, which can help to reduce stigma and encourage more people to seek treatment.
There are many ways in which a social worker can accomplish this. The following are just a few avenues:
Some organizations that specialize in promoting mental health awareness include the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), the Mental Health America (MHA), and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
It’s important to remember that promoting mental health awareness is not just about providing information and resources, but also about creating a supportive and inclusive environment for those who are struggling with mental health issues. As a social worker, you can play a crucial role in helping to create this kind of environment and make a positive impact in your community.
National Institute of Mental Health’s 2021 “Mental Health Surveillance Among Adults in the United States” report.
National Institute of Mental Health’s 2021 “Mental Health Surveillance Among Children in the United States” report.