Social Work in Mental Health-Trends and Issues

Article excerpt

Social Work in Mental Health Trends and Issues

Edited by Uri Aviram.

The Haworth Press, Inc., New York,1997, 134 pp.

It is not an easy task to choose from papers presented at an international conference and edit and produce a comprehensive, varied, yet cohesive volume that will reflect significant aspects of the state of the art in social work.

In January 1995, the First International Conference on Social Work in Health and Mental Health was convened in Jerusalem. The presentations there did much for the profession. They showed the commonality as well as the differences and how compatibility of the two can be achieved in social work in the general health field as well as in mental health. It challenged the organizers to preserve some key papers in "Social Work in Mental Health - Trends and Issues."

Professor Aviram has done an admirable job in editing the collection, giving a varied taste of issues, dilemmas, policies and the state of the art regarding social work in mental health. In so doing he has helped better define this expertise within the social work profession.

His introductory chapter gives a good background stressing that social work in mental health will reflect the values, professional interest and circumstances of the period.

The book includes varied subjects such as history of social work in psychiatry, strategies of intervention with specific target populations, working with families, ethical issues, deinstitutionalization coupled with shortcomings of support services and also policy and sensitivity to the client as a human being.

The opening chapter by Patricia Deegan, "Recovery and Empowerment for People with Psychiatric Disabilities," is a highly moving yet professional account of a "patient" who is a professional. She personally relates the need to sensitize ourselves to truly listening to a client, respecting and encouraging their independence and integrity. She has related to a keystone in social work going back to before Charles Towles' "Common Human Needs." This is not always carried out fully by any of us in our daily practice over the years. Do we always relate to the person as a person and not just as a diagnostic category? This is an inspiring humanistic address which could be paralleled in a daily Biblical reminder that man is created in G-d's image.

Other chapters are also striking. …