Role of Social Service Programs for Mental Health

Instructor: Quentin Shires

Quentin has taught psychology and other social science classes at the university level and is considered a doctoral colleague at Capella University.

In this lesson, learn the role that social service programs play in the mental health field and how they benefit the community at large. Afterwards, take a quiz to see if you understand the concepts and importance of these beneficial community programs.

Mental Health and the Role of Social Services

The mental health field is large and diverse, offering many different services to the community. Think about the community that you live in. What types of mental health services does your community offer? Chances are, there are a plethora of services that include both individual and group therapy for people suffering from bouts of mental health and substance abuse issues, as well as inpatient facilities that treat the more severe and chronic disorders. Social services help to actively treat the community that experiences these issues, as they can be costly and difficult for people in the lower income brackets to access. This allows every community member the opportunity to recover from both of these debilitating issues.

Group therapy can be beneficial in social services programs to help treat both mental health and substance abuse issues

Outpatient Mental Health Programs

Community mental health programs provide outpatient treatment to individuals that suffer from a wide array of mental health issues. These treatments benefit disorders that include anxiety, depression, trauma, bipolar disorder, and adjustment issues. It is important to note that in order to participate in outpatient treatment within the community, you will need to complete a thorough mental health assessment to determine if this lower-level of treatment is right for you. If you have a more severe or chronic mental health condition, community mental health agencies may refer you to inpatient or residential services.

Residential Psychiatric Services

For the more chronic and severe mental health issues that community members may be experiencing, social services may recommend an inpatient treatment program that typically lasts for 30 days, depending on the diagnosis. Residential psychiatric services are also offered to individuals who may be a threat to themselves or other individuals; suffering from suicidal or homicidal ideations. In these instances, social service programs may hold the individual for 24 to 48 hours to determine a course of treatment before releasing them back to the community.

Outpatient Substance Abuse Treatment

Alcoholism and drug addiction runs rampant through many communities; therefore, it is the responsibility of social services to provide treatment to individuals and families affected by this disorder. Outpatient substance abuse treatment typically occurs in both group and individual settings. Group therapy allows patients to obtain treatment with a substance abuse counselor and other people that are experiencing similar issues. This allows them to discuss their issues, struggles, and emotions with their peers in a safe environment, while learning social and coping skills. From this level of treatment, individuals typically will move to an aftercare group that meets once a week, as well as a self-help support group to help keep them on track with a recovery lifestyle. Many of these outpatient programs will also address any mental health issues to help decrease the risk of relapse.

Residential Substance Abuse Treatment

For individuals with a more severe drug or alcohol abuse history, social service programs may refer to a higher level of care to include that of a residential treatment program. Residential treatment programs typically last for around 30 days; however, individuals with more severe addiction issues may have a longer treatment regimen. Also known as inpatient treatment, this form of substance abuse treatment allows individuals to stay in a drug and alcohol free environment, while gaining important skills to help them with sobriety after successfully graduating from the program. It is also important to know that individuals who successfully complete a residential substance abuse program oftentimes transfer to the other community mental health programs such as that of outpatient, to ensure that they still have the support and skills to be successful in the community.

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