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Mental Health and
Substance Abuse Workers

Social workers seek to improve the lives of disadvantaged members of society. They focus on encouraging a positive sociological outlook toward cultural problems, improving the quality of life and human condition, and social justice. Social workers may work with individuals, groups, families, communities, and organizations.

Historically, social work can be traced back to ancient times. The idea of “charity work”, or giving to those in need, is a common thread among all major world religions. As a profession, social work emerged in the early 19th century to aid the poor and deal with society’s chronic issues. Today, social work is often broken down into three main categories:

Macro: social work involving society or communities as a whole, which focuses on policy development, and support on an international or national level.

Mezzo: is social work concerning small groups, small organizations, or agencies, and includes structuring policies for an agency or programs for a neighborhood or group.

Micro: social work involving an individual or family

Social work is also classified into different professional groups:

Clinical Social Worker. A clinical social worker, or a mental health social worker, typically holds a master’s degree in social work and proper licensure. They help individuals or groups with mental health and addiction problems. Giving therapy, teaching classes about life skills and substance abuse, and reaching out to the community, are ways clinical social workers give aid to those in need.

Medical Social Worker. A medical social worker helps individuals who are sick or who have experienced a long-term illness. They contact agencies, find nutrition classes, public health care, and help the ailing individual’s family. Medical social workers also incorporate research, and sometimes hold medical degrees.

Psychiatric Social Worker. A psychiatric social worker usually determines what type of help an individual might need through therapy, medication, and extensive research. Psychiatric social workers communicate and work with other health care professionals to provide research and surveys charting major health care concerns.

Family Social Worker. A family, child, or school social worker helps neglected children find foster homes, and instructs parents on how to better treat their children. They give advice to schoolteacher’s on behavioral issues in the classroom, and social issues adolescents face. A family social worker often aids with the adoption process when parents are seeking to adopt a child. They also help elderly individuals who cannot afford a retirement community or that suffer from a terminal illness.

Other types of social workers include policy-makers and social work planners. They create programs, analyze regulations, and research issues such as child abuse, substance abuse, poverty, homelessness, and violence. Writing grants and lobbying for the funds to assist their programs are just two, among many, ways these social workers find financial support.

Social workers are usually experts at finding resources for individuals in need. A social worker is a person committed to solving social injustice, and bringing compassion to society and individuals in need.

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