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Article

Racism and Accountable Policing for Black Adults in the United States  

Robert O. Motley Jr. and Christopher Baidoo

Racism is a public health concern for Black adults in the United States given its prevalence and association with adverse health outcomes for this population. The frequency of high-profile cases involving police use of gratuitous violence against Black adults has raised concerns regarding racially discriminatory law enforcement practices. In this article, racism is defined and a discussion is offered on its impact on the health and well-being of Black adults in the United States; the intersection of racism and policing; contemporary racialized policing practices; emerging evidence on prevalence rates for exposure (direct and indirect) to perceived racism-based police violence and associated mental and behavioral health outcomes; and police accountability through executive, legislative, legal, and other remedies.

Article

Rapid Assessment Instruments  

Steven L. McMurtry, Susan J. Rose, and Lisa K. Berger

Accurate measurement is essential for effective social work practice, but doing it well can be difficult. One solution is to use rapid assessment instruments (RAIs), which are brief scales that typically require less than 15 minutes to complete. Some are administered by practitioners, but most are self-administered on paper or electronically. RAIs are available for screening, initial assessment, monitoring of service progress, and outcome evaluation. Some require author permission, others are sold commercially, and many more are free and in the public domain. Selection of an RAI should be based first on its psychometric strength, including content, concurrent, and known-groups validity, as well as on types of reliability such as internal consistency, but practical criteria such as readability are also important. And when used in practice settings, RAIs should be part of a well-rounded measurement plan that also includes behavioral observations, client logs, unobtrusive measures, and other approaches.

Article

Religious Fundamentalist Families in School Social Work  

Jennifer Yates

This article describes issues related to culturally competent social work practice with religiously fundamentalist families in public school settings. It addresses the history of religious fundamentalist identities, the complexity inherent in such identities, and the nature of fundamentalism. A review of issues related to culturally competent practice in educational settings is offered. Recommendations informed by spiritually sensitive and strength-based approaches are discussed. Challenges to working effectively with religiously conservative and fundamentalist families in educational settings are also explored. Emphasis is placed upon the practitioner’s role in developing spirituality-sensitive therapeutic relationships by improving religious literacy, developing enhanced self-awareness, and approaching clients from a perspective of cultural humility and a lens of intersectionality.

Article

Schizophrenia Spectrum and Other Psychotic Disorders  

Concepcion Barrio, Mercedes Hernandez, Paula Helu Fernandez, and Judith A. DeBonis

Social workers in health and mental health and across public and private health sectors are expected to be knowledgeable of comprehensive approaches to effectively serve individuals dealing with psychotic disorders, including family members involved in their care. Effective services require expertise in assessment, diagnostics, treatment planning, and coordination of community support services. This article provides a knowledge base for social work practitioners working with clients challenged by the experience and consequences of serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders. We begin by reviewing the public health significance of these disorders, clinical phenomenology and its historical context, and symptoms and classification. We then discuss the family and cultural context, evidence-based treatments, and several social and clinical issues that social work practitioners should be aware of when working with this client population.

Article

Sex Trafficking Policy  

Kathleen Bergquist

Human trafficking, to include labor and sex trafficking, was recognized by the United Nations in 2000 through the Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, supplemented by the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons Especially Women and Children (Palermo Protocol). Nation states that ratified the protocol signaled their intent to be legally bound by it and consequently to develop policies to implement within their respective countries. The definition of human trafficking generally includes the commercial exploitation of persons for labor or sex. The International Labour Organization estimated in 2016 that of the 24.9 million people trapped in forced labor, 4.8 million are being sexually exploited. This article provides a historical context for sex trafficking, some discussion about the political evolution of sex trafficking legislation, current knowledge, and practice.

Article

Smart Decarceration  

Carrie Pettus

After a period of mass incarceration that spanned the 1970s through the 2010s, the United States remains the leading incarcerator in the world. Incarceration rates in the United States outpace those of other countries by several hundred per 100,000. Incarceration rates began to decline slightly in 2009, when there was a loss of fiscal, political, and moral will for mass incarceration policy and practices. First, the onset of smart decarceration approaches, the historical context from which smart decarceration stems, and the societal momentum that led to the conceptualization of smart decarceration are described. Smart decarceration is a lead strategy in social work that has been adopted by the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare as one of the 12 Grand Challenges for Social Work for the decade 2015–2025. Finally, an overview of the current status of smart decarceration and details shifts and initiatives to pursue at the intersection of social work and smart decarceration is provided.

Article

Social Work and Coercion  

Tomi Gomory and Daniel Dunleavy

Social work is perhaps most distinctive for its clear and outspoken commitment toward improving the well-being of society’s vulnerable and disadvantaged groups, while still emphasizing the importance of respecting and defending personal rights and freedoms. Though there is a fundamental necessity for coercion, or its threat, for eliciting civil social behavior in a well-functioning society, it is professionally and ethically imperative that social workers make explicit our rationales for, justifications of, and the evidence used to support or reject coercive practices in our work. Social work’s engagement with coercion inevitably entails the ethical and social policy arguments for and against its use, as shown in a review of the empirical evidence regarding its impact on the professions’ clients, exemplified by three domains: (1) child welfare, (2) mental health, and (3) addictions. Recommendations for future improvements involve balancing the potential for harm against the benefits of coercive actions.

Article

Social Work in Moldova  

Vadim Moldovan, Eugeniu Rotari, Vadim Tarna, and Alina Zagorodniuc

The Republic of Moldova is a small post-Soviet country that has been “transitioning” from a socialist to capitalist economy since the 1990s. Once a prosperous region of the Soviet Union, it is now among the poorest countries in Europe, facing many social problems that call for a strong social work profession. However, social work is new to the country and the profession is challenged by low societal status, meager resources, and lack of cohesion. Social work in Moldova is struggling to meet these challenges with the help from the West and the emergence of an indigenous model of professionalization. Child welfare, elder care, mental health, as well as the history of social work in Moldova, current state of social work education with its obstacles to and opportunities for progress will be discussed.

Article

Stress Effects on Health  

Paula S. Nurius and Charles P. Hoy-Ellis

Evolving understandings of stress have literally transformed how we think about health as contextualized within complex and multilevel transactions between individuals and their environment. We present core concepts of stress through the lens of life-course and life-span perspectives, emphasizing appraisal-based and biobehavioral models of stress response systems. We describe theories of allostatic load, embodiment, epigenetics, weathering processes, and accelerated aging that operationalize mechanisms through which stress affects health and contributes to health disparities. In addition to social determinant and life-span developmental perspectives on stress and health, we emphasize the value of health-promotive factors that can serve to buffer stress effects. Social work has important roles in targeting health-erosive stress from “neurons to neighborhoods”.

Article

Students With Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder  

Clare S. Gaskins, Melissa A. Bitalvo, and Michele R. Cohen

There is growing evidence that obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is much more common in children and adolescents than originally believed. While some youth with mild to moderate OCD may be able to navigate their school day with minimal interference, for others the disorder can cause significant impairment in the ability to concentrate on school work, complete homework, and make and maintain peer relationships. School social workers and staff can play a pivotal role in shaping learning environments that support students with OCD. This article provides an overview of clinical characteristics of OCD, its assessment and treatment, how children with the disorder may present in the school setting, and ways in which school staff can assist students with OCD.

Article

Suicide  

Stacey Freedenthal

Every year, more people in the world die from suicide than from homicide and wars combined. Efforts to reduce suicide have made several advances. Research has identified numerous suicide risk factors, and, though small in number, effective prevention and intervention strategies have been identified. Social workers are likely to encounter suicidal clients in their work, requiring suicide assessment and intervention skills.

Article

Suicide and Public Policy  

Janelle Stanley and Sarah Strole

The historical context of suicidal behavior and public policies addressing suicide arose simultaneously within the United States, and both reflect a culture of discrimination and economic disenfranchisement. Systems of oppression including anti-Black racism, restrictive immigration policy, displacement of American Indigenous communities, religious moralism, and the capitalist economic structure perpetuate high-risk categories of suicidality. Suicidal behavior, protective factors, and risk factors, including firearms, are examined in the context of twentieth and early twenty first century public policy. Recommendations for public policy will be discussed with consideration for policies that impact communities disproportionately and social work ethics, such as right to die laws and inconsistent standards of care.

Article

Survivorship  

Katherine Walsh

The term survivor has been applied to people who have endured diverse traumatic or life-threatening experiences ranging from sexual abuse to airplane crashes and wars. In the past 25 years, the term has also been applied to those diagnosed with cancer, an illness that once claimed the lives of most who were diagnosed with it, but which many now survive because of treatment advances. This entry addresses the social-work profession’s involvement with cancer survivorship as one example of survivorship. Social workers encounter cancer survivors in every practice arena, including hospitals and palliative-care programs as well as schools, correctional facilities, and mental-health clinics. They conduct research and provide education about the psychosocial impact of cancer and also provide counseling and advocacy. With their focus on strengths and resilience and their range of skills and knowledge about the biopsychosocial impact of life-threatening and traumatic experiences, social workers are uniquely positioned to assist survivors in adjustment to survivorship and in restoring well-being through micro, mezzo, and macro systems interventions.

Article

Survivors of Suicide, Those Left Behind When Someone Dies by Suicide  

Julie Cerel and Myfanwy Maple

Suicide is a more prevalent cause of death in many countries than automobile accidents, homicide, and breast cancer. Despite this, the experience of people left behind after a suicide is not well understood. This entry provides a sociohistorical overview of suicide to place suicide death in a relevant cultural context, explores the bereavement experiences of those grieving a loss to suicide, and presents the debate about similarities and differences regarding suicide bereavement in relation to other forms of traumatic death. In addition, this entry examines the role of social workers in working with people bereaved by suicide.

Article

Terminal Illness  

Grace Christ

The ability of medical technology to prolong life over the past century has forced an examination of the experience and care of the dying. Many diseases that once were expected to follow a sloping illness trajectory with predictable deterioration and ultimately death are now more commonly experienced as chronic illnesses. They require more medical and other resources and challenge the family's ability to cope for much longer periods. The knowledge, value, and skill base of social work, and its broad range of practice sites make it uniquely suited to contribute to the movement to improve the care of the dying. The Social Work Hospice and Palliative Care Network were formed in 2007 to advance and give voice to social work's expertise in this area and to promote its development in practice, education, research, and policy.

Article

The Brief Therapies  

Gilbert J. Greene

Research and meta-analysis of research on psychotherapy outcome has consistently supported the use of therapy that is planned from the beginning to be brief. In recent years several brief therapy approaches have been developed, often by social workers, and found to be effective. This article provides an overview of the research supporting the use of brief therapy and describes the basics of the major approaches to brief therapy such as the task-centered approach, the psychodynamic approaches, interpersonal therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, emotion-focused therapy, the strength-based approaches, couples and family therapy, and group therapy. It closes with the discussion of several future trends in brief therapy.

Article

The Relationships Between Impulse-Control Disorders, Compulsion Disorders, and Addictions  

Gordon MacNeil and B. Michelle Brazeal

This article presents information regarding the evolving understanding of the relationships between impulse-control disorders, compulsion-related disorders, and addictions (both substance-related and behavioral). The traditional model describing the relationship between impulse-control disorders and compulsion-related disorders is now considered overly simplistic. New research suggests that this relationship is complex, and distinctions between these disorders are not as solid as previously thought. Information about this dynamic relationship also has implications for substance use disorders and behavioral addictions.

Article

Trauma  

Nancy J. Smyth

This entry summarizes the current state of knowledge about the nature of trauma and intervention with trauma reactions. It includes the history of traumatology, demographics, theory, research and best practices, controversies, and current trends as well as diversity issues and international and interdisciplinary perspectives.

Article

Trauma and Stress-Related Disorders  

Kathryn Basham

Traumatic events have permeated our lives throughout history and across the globe, inflicting profound losses on individuals, families, and communities during warfare, armed conflict, natural disasters, and relational violence. Although many survivors of these events harness their resilience and cope without long-term negative mental health effects, others experience a range of physical and mental health conditions, including trauma- and stress-related disorders. With an emphasis placed on adult trauma survivors, the conditions of posttraumatic stress disorder, acute stress disorder, adjustment disorders, complex trauma, and other stress-related conditions have been explored within a social context. Starting with a historical context, the following topics were addressed. The typologies of trauma were introduced including the definitions of Type I trauma—a single discrete event including natural catastrophes; Type II trauma—chronic and repetitive traumatic physical, sexual, and/or emotional abuse; and Type IIII—severe and multiple abusive events with multiple perpetrators. Historical and intergenerational trauma reflect a collective of complex traumatic events throughout generations that resonate in subsequent generations in terms of ungrieved losses and survivor guilt, among other psychosocial issues. Cultural and racial trauma include chronic verbal and/or physical assaults that involve racialized bigotry. Combat trauma involves a combination of deployment stressors that have affected servicemembers in distinct ways with “signature injuries” associated with different wartime conflicts. The next section addresses the current typology of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders—V, noting the changes in diagnostic criteria, in particular related to the diagnosis of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Mental health responses to trauma vary a great deal based on a balance of risk and protective factors, often revealing noteworthy resilience and the absence of negative aftereffects. The neurobiological effects of trauma are addressed along with mental health conditions or disorders (e.g., acute stress response, PTSD, complex trauma, and anxiety disorders). Specific phase-oriented and multimodality treatment interventions are reviewed that focus specifically on the mental health conditions presented. These approaches are research-informed, culturally responsive, and theoretically grounded Finally, the responses experienced by clinicians who work with traumatized clients are outlined along with recommendations for ways to minimize the effects of secondary, or vicarious, traumatization. Clinical vignettes based on case composites have been utilized to illustrate central points.

Article

Trauma-Focused Cognitive–Behavioral Therapy  

Susan A. Green and Doyle K. Pruitt

Trauma-focused cognitive–behavioral therapy (TF-CBT) is a manualized treatment for children 3–17 years old who have posttraumatic stress symptomology as a result of experiencing a traumatic event or series of events. This evidence-based practice allows for practitioner expertise in adapting the order and time spent on each of the treatment components to best meet the individual needs of the child and his or her caretaker. This article provides an overview of the treatment components of TF-CBT, its application across various settings, use with diverse populations, and effectiveness.