5 Duties of a Mental Health Social Worker

Mental Health Social Worker Duties

  • Build Relationships
  • Provide Therapy
  • Make Referrals
  • Advocate for Clients
  • Record Client Progress

Duties of a mental health social worker vary. This type of social worker assists clients who have mental health diagnoses in learning to overcome their issues and to learn new behaviors so that they can live a healthier life. They also work with families and community resources to ensure that client needs are met. They provide counseling and support in order to teach new and adaptive behaviors. This process involves a number of specific duties. Keep reading to learn more about them and to gain insight into the work of mental health, or psychiatric, social workers.

Build Relationships

Being a social worker involves truly getting to know clients and their families. These professionals work in various settings including the home, community and healthcare facilities. Their work involves building rapport so that they can gain insight into the issues that are most affecting their clients. In order to gain enough knowledge to write an effective treatment plan, the social worker must build a strong relationship with the client.

Provide Therapy

Providing therapy involves taking the time to understand the client’s complex situation. The requires asking many questions and then helping to guide the individual in understanding the ways in which their behavior is affected by other aspects of their life. It also involves teaching new behaviors and coping mechanisms. All of this is accomplished through specific therapeutic strategies based on a particular school of thought.

Make Referrals

One of the most unknown duties of a mental health social worker is to make referrals to outside professionals and agencies. It commonly requires a team to meet the needs of an individual. Services such as healthcare, financial assistance, housing programs, educational services and more are needed to ensure that the client can return to a state of healthy functioning.

Advocate for Clients

It’s regularly necessary for mental health professionals to serve as advocates for their clients. Perhaps they may help families to ensure children receive the educational opportunities and assistance they deserve based upon their diagnosis. A psychiatric social worker may assist a client with navigating the legal or housing systems based on specific issues that affect them. There are many cases in which these workers will need to step in on behalf of their clients.

Record Client Progress

There is a great deal of paperwork that is required of mental health social workers. A written treatment plan that lays out therapeutic goals based on current needs is often the first step to the client relationship. Session notes are usually taken after each meeting, and progress updates are often required every few months. These detailed notes provide a summary of the client’s case as time goes on. They also are written records for organizations such as courts, insurance companies and others. Writing is a big part of this job.

Related Resource: Top 10 Best Online Social Work Degree Programs

Anyone wishing to become a psychiatric social worker should be familiar with these basic duties. There are certainly many more, but this should provide a picture of what is required of these professionals. The duties of a mental health social worker are vast, and the rewards are many.