Psychiatric Social Work - An Emerging Mental Health Profession in India

Essay, 2012

6 Pages



Psychiatric Social Work, a specialised branch of Social work, which concerns with theoretical as well as clinical work and the knowledge of Psychiatry-which primarily deals with problems of the mind and associated disorders. The essential purpose of Psychiatric Social Work is to help the people with problems of the mind and/or with behavior problems or we can say precisely the problems of mind and brain and their solutions.

It has grown as the result of the need felt and its realization for people with mental or emotionally disturb could be helped more effectively by understanding their social and/or environmental factors responsible for the problems of mind and brain in their management. Professionally trained Psychiatric Social Worker is the qualified member of psychiatric team treating comprehensively the patients with psychiatric disorders or behavioral problems. These professionals utilize social work principle, techniques for the purpose of diagnosis, patient care and treatment and finally plan the rehabilitation of the patients in the family and in the community. Besides they also provide other services to mentally challenged people like therapeutic treatment, social rehabilitation, crisis intervention or outreach services in the community. A psychiatric Social Worker (PSW) works in close association with psychiatrist, child guidance clinics, social services department as the team in the psychiatric hospital; and they also extend their work in families and communities for mentally challenged people. The role and responsibilities of the psychiatric social worker is fast increasing never before and he is no longer confine to the hospital or psychiatric clinic, but they are accepting the new challenges as the mental health hygienist in various public activities and helping the preventive mental schemes of the government for the people.

Mental health professional includes various professional includes all practitioner who offers their services for improving an individual's mental health or to treat mental illness include psychiatrists, Clinical/Psychiatric social workers, clinical psychologists, , psychiatric nurses, mental health counsellors, professional counsellors, pharmacists, as well as many other professionals like medical anthropologists. These professionals often treat comprehensively the psychiatric illnesses, disorders, conditions and other issues, however, their scope of practice varies cases to case.

Role of Psychiatric Social Worker: What do they do?

A psychiatric social worker helps the mental health professional-psychiatrist and families of patients in a similar way as counsellors and psychologists do. Their main job is to assess patients and develop patients’ specific plans of care. They also provide therapy or counselling services to patients, as well as help family members to deal with patients with mental illness in the family. Psychiatric social workers generally interviews with admitted patients, members of their families, agency staff and others, and through collateral investigations, the range of services needed by residents and their families; plans and develops a social plan of care for each resident and his/her family which may include direct counselling, treatment provided by other agency support services and/or referral to other agencies; conducts individual and group therapy sessions; instructs and directs other agency support staff in therapeutic techniques; arranges for services from referral agencies; reviews resident and family social situations as necessary and modifies social plan of care as indicated; explains the scope of services to the resident and family as is appropriate; provides direct crisis intervention services when required; maintains case records and prepares reports; participates in development of multidisciplinary plans of care and their reviews; facilitates development of interdisciplinary active treatment plans, writes monthly summaries of progress toward active treatment goals, arranges interdisciplinary reviews of active treatment plan periodically.

Their role includes to explain the treatment plans to patients and their families, maintaining patient records, preparing reports, monitoring progress, and reviews of psychosocial treatment plans. Psychiatric social workers may also offer individual and group therapy sessions to patients, instruct other mental health staff in therapeutic techniques, and provide crisis interventions, arranging the services from referral agencies and to help patients send back to the community.

There is wider demand of Psychiatric Social Worker (PSW) can work as Case Manager, Researcher, Rehabilitator, in mental health institutions, in community mental health programme, as a member of multidisciplinary team. A psychiatric social worker helps people who struggling with mental health problem and cope with them. A PSW provides counselling services to patients and family members and to helps them to obtain both financial and medical services. He or she might also investigate homelessness and job placement options for recovering patients.

The PSW is appointed for most of the cases, a mentally ill patient in prison or in psychiatric hospital to help him or her deal with psychiatric issues. Some people voluntarily seek help from social workers to learn how they can obtain financial, medical, or personal assistance. Many licensed social workers provide interpersonal counselling services, helping patients, family members, and helping the caregivers to learn more about mental disorders and the best ways to cope with them.

Another main goal of most psychiatric social workers is to help patients to live and work in society with the highest degree of self dependent. These professional also arranges the special living facilities for inpatient in hospitals, halfway houses/ home, or assist in home living facilities. He or she may also contact potential employers to find out about job possibilities and explain a client's situation. In addition, a psychiatric social worker helps patients and their families obtain services and financial assistance from non-profit community organizations or other government organisations.

As mentioned before, a psychiatric social worker can help with future employment and housing needs of the patient. The way how this is done is by liaisoning with potential employers and landlords and explains to them the needs of the such person. Social workers can also help the patients get financial assistance from various government organizations, non- profit organizations and NGO’s. In order to become a Psychiatric social worker there are some minimum qualifications needed to get certified.

Clinical and Non Clinical Role of Psychiatric Social Worker:

They work in close association with Clinical professionals and Non Clinical and they do both kind of the work- clinical and non clinical.

The Clinical Psychiatric Social Work may include one or more of the following:

- Intake
- Reception- Accepting the patient
- Diagnosis / Analysis of Patient
- Treatment
- Rehabilitation of Patient
- Pre- convalescent
- Pre-Parole Services
- Follow- Up : after care
- Case History
- Case Work with Patient
- Case Work with Relative
- Orientation of the Staff
- Advocating for care
- Protecting the vulnerable
- Providing forensic practice functions
- Increasing social well-being
- Providing case management for complex and high-risk cases
- Providing clinical supervision or direction of clinical programs
- Providing psychosocial treatment

Whereas the non clinical work may include the following:

- Promotion of Mental Health
- Conducting Workshop
- Case Identification
- Providing Referral Services
- Providing Recreational Therapies
- Program Administration
- Training for Health Volunteer
- Mental Health Awareness Camp
- Program planning and development
- Providing education and resources
- Administration of community services or programs
- Assessment of client needs for macro community programs or services
- Coordination and/or evaluation of service delivery
- Advocacy on behalf of persons or groups with unmet service needs
- Analysis and development of social welfare policy
- Organizational analysis
- Provision of training about community needs and problems
- Human Right of Psychiatric Patients

Who can become Psychiatric Social Worker?

In India, any person who has the regular post graduate degree in Social work with Medical and Psychiatric specialization; are eligible for the M.Phil or Ph.D in Psychiatric Social Work. The minimum requirement for psychiatric social workers either M.Phil or Ph.D in Psychiatric Social Work as a full time residential clinical programme from recognised Institute. However the psychiatric social work aspirants often choose to major in medical and psychiatric social work during their post graduation.

In other countries, fresh psychiatric social work professional, besides the M.Phil./PhD in PSW, must pass a written examination to practice the psychiatric social work and they are awarded the license to practice it independently. Licensing tests are designed to ensure that a professional practice the psychiatric social worker fully understands the fundamentals requirements of his job, legal matters-which varies country to country, and the importance of confidential practices and professional ethics.

There are some of the Premier Institutes in India offering the highly specialized Research Degree (M.Phil or PhD) programme in Psychiatric Social Work:

- National Institute of Mental Health and Neurological Sciences (NIMHANS), Hosur Road Bangalore, Karnataka.
- Ranchi Institute of Neuro- Psychiatry and Allied Sciences (RINPAS), Government of Jharkhand Kanke, Ranchi, Jharkhand.
- Central Institute of Psychiatry (CIP), Government of India, Kanke, Ranchi, Jharkhand.
- Pt. B.D. Sharma University of Health Sciences, Rohtak. Harayana.
- Lokopriya Gopinath Bordoloi Regional Institute of Mental Health, Sonitpur, Tezpur, Assam.

Besides these, there are many other Institutes in Delhi, Amritsar, Agra, Gwalior and Kolkata are planning to initiate the training programme leading to M.Phil in Psychiatric Social Work.

Psychiatric Social Work: Skills and knowledge imparted A professional PSW is well equipped with the skills imparted during their training the knowledge of generic social work methods and principles; various interviewing techniques, psychiatric assessment- principles and evaluation methods; knowledge of natural human growth and development of behaviour; knowledge of mental health treatment modalities used in individual or in group and for family therapy; knowledge of health and welfare measures and the ways these resources may be utilized; knowledge of programs, planning and techniques; ability to write the medical case history and mental status examination; knowledge about classification of mental and behaviour disorder (i.e. Personality Disorder, Psychoactive Substance use Disorders, Schizophrenia, Mood Affective Disorders, Neurotic Stress Related and Somatoform Disorders, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder etc.) according to ICD -10 & DSM-IV and their diagnostic criteria, Knowledge of psychopathology (illusions, hallucination, delusion, Neologisms, Perseveration and circumstantiality, etc. ) knowledge


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Psychiatric Social Work - An Emerging Mental Health Profession in India
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psychiatric, social, work, emerging, mental, health, profession, india
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Upmesh K. Talwar (Author)Ravinder Singh (Author), 2012, Psychiatric Social Work - An Emerging Mental Health Profession in India, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


  • guest on 2/1/2017

    its so useful for psychiatric social workers, moreover it was so precise and easy to understand... thank you sir..

  • guest on 11/30/2015

    a wonderful work on psychiatric social work, nice to read out and understanding,,,bundle of thankz ,sir

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