Mental health and managed care

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A woman with dark hair stares toward the floor with her hands on her shoulders. She is depressed and alone.

Psychology professionals historically provided mental health services, but, over time, social work professionals have emerged as the largest service providers in this area. The social work profession brings a unique perspective to mental health and managed care. Its focus on environmental factors and their importance in both the assessment and intervention phases is one example of how the social work profession has influenced mental health care. Despite these influences, gaps in care still exist within the mental health care system. How might you, as a social worker, respond to the challenges these gaps in care present? What gaps might exist in your state’s mental health policies, and what is your ethical responsibility in addressing these gaps?

This week, you explore the gaps in care within the mental health care system and develop suggestions for how to address the challenges the system faces in providing care. You also examine the specific mental health policies for your state and analyze the ethical responsibilities of social workers in mental health care.

Learning Objectives

Students will:
  • Identify gaps in care for the mental health care system
  • Analyze the influence of environmental stressors on mental health treatment
  • Develop strategies for addressing challenges in mental health care
  • Analyze policies on emerging issues in mental health care
  • Develop strategies for ensuring clients/populations receive necessary mental health services
  • Analyze the ethical responsibilities of social workers as it relates to mental health care conflicts in host settings
  • Analyze specific state mental health commitment standards and services

Photo Credit: PeopleImages / DigitalVision / Getty Images

Learning Resources

Required Readings

Popple, P. R., & Leighninger, L. (2015). The policy-based profession: An introduction to social welfare policy analysis for social workers. (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.
Chapter 8, “Mental Health and Substance Abuse (pp. 164-193)

World Health Organization. (2004). Mental health policy and service guidance package: Mental health policy, plans and programmes. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/mental_health/policy/en/policy_plans_revision.pdf

Plummer, S. -B., Makris, S., & Brocksen, S. (Eds.). (2014). Sessions: Case histories. Baltimore: MD: Laureate International Universities Publishing. [Vital Source e-reader].
Part 1, “The Parker Family” (pp. 6–8)

Mental Health America. (n.d.). Retrieved October 10, 2013, from www.mentalhealthamerica.net

Required Media

Laureate Education (Producer). (2013). Sessions: Parker family (Episode 5 of 42) [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

Accessible player –Downloads–Download Video w/CCDownload AudioDownload Transcript

Mental health care is a primary concern to social workers, who are the main providers of care to populations with mental health diagnoses. The system that provides services to individuals with mental health issues is often criticized for being reactive and only responding when individuals are in crisis. Crisis response is not designed to provide on-going care and is frequently very expensive, especially if hospitalization is involved.

Critics suggest a comprehensive plan, which involves preventive services, as well as a continuum of care. However, there are few, if any, effective and efficient program models. Social work expertise and input are vital to implementing effective services. Targeting services to individuals with a diagnosis of mental illness is one strategy. Another approach includes providing an array of services that are also preventative in nature. How might these suggestions address potential policy gaps in caring for individuals such as the family members in the Parker Family case?

For this Discussion, review this week’s resources, including the Parker Family video. Then consider the specific challenges or gaps in caring for individuals with a chronic mental illness might present for the mental health system based on the Parker case. Finally, think about how environmental stressors, such as poverty, can aggravate mental illness and make treatment more challenging.

By Day 3

Post an explanation of the specific challenges or gaps in the mental health care system for the care of individuals with chronic mental illnesses. Base your response on the Parker case. Then, describe how environmental stressors, such as poverty, can aggravate mental illness and make treatment more challenging.

Support your post with specific references to the resources. Be sure to provide full APA citations for your references

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