The study of psychopathology in social work

  • The study of psychopathology in social work

    Mental health is affecting the nation at a higher level than ever before. According to recent research from Mental Health America, over 44 million American adults have a mental health condition. To put it into perspective, this is nearly equivalent to the combined populations of New York and Florida. More startling than these statistics is the fact that one in five of these individuals do not receive adequate care or treatment to address their mental health.

    With such a large population of Americans affected by the mental health crisis, in addition to the substantial amount of individuals not receiving support, it is imperative that mental health professionals understand different types of disorders. According to the National Association of Social Workers, the demand for educated, skilled and trained social workers has increased significantly as a result of the shortages of social workers in certain areas of practice, as well as the prevalence of these professionals among an aging baby boomer population.

    It’s important that social workers are well versed in the area of psychopathology, the study of mental health, and how it influences their everyday practice. Social workers can improve their knowledge of the subject and prepare to provide appropriate care to all clients and patients with a Master of Social Work.

    Understanding psychopathology

    Psychopathology — the analysis of issues relating to mental health, as well as the symptoms and behaviors associated with psychological disorders — is a crucial subject in the care and treatment of mental health illnesses. This area combines psychological and scientific knowledge and skills to effectively manage and support clients exhibiting mental, social and behavioral symptoms.

    Even though psychiatrists and clinical psychologists work closely in the field of psychopathology, the study of mental illness influences multiple industries, including social work. There may be an instance in which someone receiving assistance from a social worker is unaware of an underlying mental health condition or has been misdiagnosed. When social workers are familiar with the concept of psychopathology, they can seek out effective resources for their clients in response to the behaviors and symptoms they observe.

    The prevalence of mental illnesses

    One of the most important roles associated with psychopathology is the identification of various mental health issues. Even though social workers may not be qualified to offer a specific diagnosis, they have the ability to refer individuals to clinical psychologists who can offer them relevant treatment plans. As a social worker, it can be beneficial to know the major mental health issues affecting Americans, as well as the warning signs and risks associated with each type.

    According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, anxiety and depression are the two most common mental disorders affecting Americans, at 18.1% and 6.9% respectively. 2.6% of the population suffers from bipolar disorder, while 1.1% of adults live with schizophrenia. NAMI outlined some of the major consequences of various mental health illnesses, particularly those that go undiagnosed:

    • About 26% of adults staying in homeless shelters have serious mental illnesses.
    • 24% of state prisoners have a history of mental health conditions.
    • 10.2 million adults have coexisting mental health and addiction disorders.
    • 90% of deaths by suicide involve an underlying mental health disorder.
    • Severe mental illnesses cost the U.S. $193.2 billion in lost annual earnings.

    One of the major resources that mental health professionals use in their everyday practice is the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health (DSM). The DSM provides a comprehensive number of assessments of various mental health disorders and informs mental health practitioners of diagnosis practices and psychopathy initiatives. By using this resource, social workers can help to classify various issues their clients are struggling with and determine the best treatment strategies to address specific mental health problems.

    Studying psychopathology in social work

    Because social workers encounter a variety of individuals facing adversities on a daily basis, it is essential that they understand the frameworks of mental health conditions, as well as their diagnoses and treatment plans. Graduate programs are increasingly promoting the significance of psychopathology in the field of social work. As a result, many social work degrees offer courses and electives in this discipline.

    Here are just a handful of the universities that offer the study of psychopathology in conjunction with their social work master’s programs:

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