When people experience substance abuse, depression, anxiety or other mental illness, their issues can feel insurmountable. For help, they turn to Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers. These social workers provide counseling to help individuals and groups recover, and often consult with other professionals to evaluate the mental or physical condition of a client. As part of helping clients re-enter their communities with greater health and stability, they may offer outreach, crisis intervention, social rehabilitation, and training in the skills of everyday living. Good record-keeping is important. This field requires critical thinking and problem-solving skills. You must be patient, a good listener and an effective communicator. The job can be mentally and emotionally taxing; understaffing and large caseloads can add to the pressure. And it can be dangerous --clients who struggle with poverty, drug addiction, and physical abuse may require help in difficult or dangerous environments. Most work in hospitals, substance abuse treatment centers, and public or private agencies. Although some work may be available with a bachelor’s degree in this field, most of these jobs require a master’s degree in social work and a state license. For those who struggle with addiction or mental health problems, the support and guidance of mental health and substance abuse social workers can be a lifeline.
What they do:
Assess and treat individuals with mental, emotional, or substance abuse problems, including abuse of alcohol, tobacco, and/or other drugs. Activities may include individual and group therapy, crisis intervention, case management, client advocacy, prevention, and education.
On the job, you would:
Counsel clients in individual or group sessions to assist them in dealing with substance abuse, mental or physical illness, poverty, unemployment, or physical abuse.
Monitor, evaluate, and record client progress with respect to treatment goals.
Interview clients, review records, conduct assessments, or confer with other professionals to evaluate the mental or physical condition of clients or patients.
Math and Science
sociology and anthropology
therapy and counseling
Arts and Humanities
listening to others, not interrupting, and asking good questions
talking to others
understanding people's reactions
changing what is done based on other people's actions
noticing a problem and figuring out the best way to solve it
listen and understand what people say
communicate by speaking
Ideas and Logic
notice when problems happen
make general rules or come up with answers from lots of detailed information
see hidden patterns
quickly know what you are looking at
People interested in this work like activities that include helping people, teaching, and talking.
They do well at jobs that need:
Concern for Others
You might use software like this on the job:
Medical condition coding software
Medical procedure coding software
Internet browser software
Microsoft Internet Explorer
Electronic mail software
master's degree or certificate after master's usually needed
Get started on your career:
New job opportunities are very likely in the future.