Recent surveys show that only one third of patients with mental disorders receive treatment per year. This has been attributed to the lack of availability and accessibility of services, coupled with societal stigma associated with receiving mental health care (McGuire & Goldman 2004). Provision of community mental health services is dependent on the organization and funding in different states, thereby making the services highly variable.
Research studies on the provision and practice of mental health care services indicate that, the practice is still wanting due to the lack of knowledge. For example, a study carried out by Ohio Medical School on the prevalent levels of Schizophrenia in local communities found that the treatment levels were highly ineffective. In addition, the study also indicated that the use of antipsychotic medication was acutely insufficient (Hennessy & Pertilla 2004).
Skills and Characteristics of Mental Health Human Services Workers
The human services field has a sole objective of meeting human needs. Mental health workers have always maintained a commitment to improving the quality of life of those populations in need. This profession promotes quality service delivery, improved accessibility, and coordination of agencies in service delivery. Human Service Workers work in diverse settings that include community mental health centres, children disability centres and institutions where care is needed and depending on their employment setting, their duties vary.
The desire to help others is a crucial consideration for an effective human service worker. They must show patience and tolerance to their clients. A good human service worker should be caring, understanding and sensitive to the needs of others. Employers value those employees who show such attributes. Other crucial traits are good interpersonal and communication skills, Ability to manage time effectively, and a strong sense of responsibility.
In addition, it is crucial for them to understanding the nature of human systems: individuals, group, organization, community and society, and their major interactions. All workers will have preparation which helps them to appreciate human development, group dynamics, organizational structure, how communities are structured, how national policy is set, and how social systems interrelate in creating human problems. Worker s dealing with people with mental disabilities should understand concepts of a healthy functioning and treatment rehabilitation. They should comprehend the conditions that hinder the normal functioning of such clients.
Human services should be keen in identifying and selecting interventions that promote goal attainment and development. These interventions are crucial in helping clients attain a desired outcome. They should posses skills in planning and implementing interventions. Human service workers must be in a position to design a plan of action for an identified problem and organize implementation in a systematic way. The employers insist on getting workers with values and knowledge of the organization, human service ethics and appreciation of a client s values and goals. To respond to service needs, human service workers must possess skills required to plan and implement services. Interpersonal, oral and communication skills are crucial to fulfil all the needs of clients.
The inadequacy of funds has been identified as the key impediment in promoting community based mental health services. As a result, many people keep on struggling with mental and substance abuse disorders, thus leading to homelessness. Survey statistics indicate that 30 to 40 percent of all homeless people suffer from mental related disorders.
The provision of community mental health services in the United States has further been hampered by the “criminalization” of people with mental disorders. A report compiled by the U.S. department of defence provided startling statistics to show that 16% of all prison inmates had mental disorders. In fact, in the U.S, the County Jail in Los Angeles has been identified as the institution with the largest number of mentally ill inmates (Young 2010).
The problem of providing mental health service in the U.S has had an impact to all the concerned parties. Some of the relevant stakeholders include the government, financiers, sponsors and patients themselves. Historically, private insurers refused to cover mental illness or put a limit on their coverage, thus affecting accessibility of services (McGuire & Goldman 2001). Since the problem is highly variable, it requires more funding to support mental health related programs. In this respect, the government is charged with the responsibility of initiating policies geared towards reducing stigma and focusing on treating of mental illness. However, there should be a formidable partnership between the public and private sector if the problem of providing mental health service is to be conclusively solved.
Dealing with the issue of mental illness can be a complex affair. The first course of action is decriminalization of the mentally ill patients. The government through its law enforcement agencies should not segregate mental ill cases, but instead accommodate them in the society. McGuire & Goldman (2001) argue that, people suffering from mental illness are more prone to commit crimes without even noticing that they are on the wrong. In the future, the criminal justice system should strive to move away from punishing mental ill cases, but instead provide them with treatment.
In the future, the government should pay considerable attention to community based mental health care services. It can begin by developing policies and programs to educate people, and create awareness on the issues of mental illness. This will help the current problem of stigmatization faced by the mentally ill patients. According to Young (2010), the use of pre-arrest diversion programs will help address the cases related to metal illness. For example, in the Florida County, mental health court programs have been initiated which accept treatment instead of criminal prosecution against mentally ill offenders. Although, these programs have the potential to succeed, they must be well organized and adequately funded.