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Bibliography expanded and updated to include recent research. Additional paragraph on recent research on patients with serious mental illness and their relationship with their medications.

Updated on 3 September 2013. The previous version of this content can be found here.
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date: 18 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

To advance the discussion of the interface between psychopharmacology and contemporary social work practice, we present a brief primer on the different types of medications used in psychiatry and our current understanding of how they work. We also discuss how decisions are made about psychiatric medications in the real world to treat some of the more common mental illnesses. Along the way, we will also present some of the recent research in psychopharmacology of particular interest to social workers and the clients they serve, as well as some of the future directions we can expect in the years to come. From that foundation, we review major activities of social workers in psychiatric medication, address some of the key controversies centering on issues of access, the role of drug companies, and especially medication for children. We conclude with brief reflections on what is “best practice” and notions of the future of interdisciplinary practice in health, mental health, and beyond.

Keywords: psychiatric medication, social work roles in psychopharmacology, decision-making in psychiatry, meaning of medication, interdisciplinary practice, information and referral around psychiatric medication, medication monitoring and adherence, controversy and social justice issues with medications

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