Shaun M. Eack
Mental health research is the study of the causes and correlates of mental health and illness, approaches to improve mental well-being, and the delivery of effective mental health services to those in need. Social workers have been leading researchers in each of these areas of inquiry, and this article provides an overview of the broad field of mental health research, with particular emphasis on the contributions of social work. A biopsychosocial review of research on the correlates of mental health and illness is provided, followed by a synthesis of studies examining pharmacological and psychosocial approaches to improving mental health. Research on mental health services is then presented, with a focus on studies seeking to improve access to quality care and reduce service disparities. Key directions for future mental health research include identifying specific causal predictors of mental illness, improving existing treatments, and disseminating advances to the community.
Carol M. Lewis and Shanti Kulkarni
Despite downward trends in the U.S. teen birth rate overall, the associated social and economic costs are still significant. Historically, teen pregnancy prevention policy and program adoption have been influenced by the sociopolitical environment at national, state, and local levels. Recent federal efforts have begun to re-emphasize the importance of developing and supporting evidence-based prevention efforts. Current teen pregnancy prevention approaches are reviewed with attention to the range of program philosophies, components, settings, populations served, and documented effectiveness. Promising directions in pregnancy prevention program development for adolescents are also highlighted.
Sarah E. Bledsoe, Brianna M. Lombardi, Brittney Chesworth, and Samuel Lawrence
This article discusses interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT), a psychotherapeutic intervention developed by Gerald Klerman, Myrna Weissman, and colleagues in the 1970s as an outpatient treatment for major depression in adults. Based on the theories of Harry Stack Sullivan and Adolph Meyer, IPT is a manualized, time-limited intervention that addresses the underlying interpersonal antecedents and correlates of psychiatric illness. The goal of IPT as originally developed is to reduce depressive symptoms and improve interpersonal relationships. IPT has been widely tested in adults and adolescents and is an empirically supported treatment for major depression. IPT has been adapted for a variety of psychiatric illnesses and problems of living including perinatal depression, anxiety, and trauma-related disorders. Current evidence detailed below supports the use of IPT across cultures, illnesses, and populations.
Home health care is professional medical and non-medical care delivered in the home (home refers to a private residence, an assisted living facility, or a group home) to assist ill, injured, or disabled seniors or adults remain safely at home for as long as possible. As the population ages, and the numbers of Baby Boomers age 85 and older increases, it is likely that there will be a growing need for long-term care, including home health care. In this article, the role of social work in home health care is reviewed as it is impacted by sources of payment and demographic characteristics of home care users. Social work assessment and intervention in home health care is also discussed with a focus on effective referral practices.
Phylis J. Peterman
Michael White (1948–2008), academic, researcher, adventurer, and athlete, is known as a leading developer of narrative family therapy. Narrative family therapy focuses on empowerment, strengths, and collaboration and positions people as the experts in their own lives. The theory has application in problem solving and conflict resolution with diverse groups.
Wendy Haight and Priscilla Gibson
Racial disproportionality in out-of-school suspensions (suspensions) is a persistent, multi-level social justice and child well-being issue affecting not only youth, families, and schools but society as a whole. It is a complex, multiple-level social problem that will require an equally complex response. The design of effective remedies will require adequate understanding of the problem as well as the historical and sociocultural contexts in which it emerged and is perpetuated. Progressive educators have offered a number of alternatives to harsh and exclusionary discipline, but research is needed to examine their effectiveness, especially in reducing racial disproportionalities.
Craig Winston LeCroy and Jenny McCullough Cosgrove
Research has shown groups are an efficient and effective modality for interventions with school-aged children. Psychoeducational and psychotherapeutic groups are frequently used to guide children in areas such as skills training, emotional regulation, violence prevention, and grief. There are key developmental questions to consider when working with children that take into consideration factors such as cognitive development and emotional maturity. Overall, groups can be an efficient and effective intervention in the school setting for use by school social workers.
June Simmons, Sandy Atkins, Janice Lynch Schuster, and Melissa Jones
Transitions in care occur when a patient moves from an institutional setting, such as a hospital or nursing home, to home or community, often with the hope or expectation of improving health status. At the very least, patients, clinicians, and caregivers aim to achieve stability and avoid complications that would precipitate a return to the emergency department (ED) or hospital. For some groups of vulnerable people, especially the very old and frail, such transitions often require specific, targeted coaching and supports that enable them to make the change successfully. Too often, as research indicates, these transitions are poorly executed and trigger a cycle of hospital readmissions and worsening health, even death. In recognizing these perils, organizations have begun to see that by improving the care transition process, they can improve health outcomes and reduce costs while ensuring safety, consistency, and continuity. While some of this improvement relies on medical care, coaching, social services and supports are often also essential. Lack of timely medical follow-up, transportation, inadequate nutrition, medication issues, low health literacy, and poverty present barriers to optimal health outcomes. By addressing social and environmental determinants of health and chronic disease self-management, social workers who make home visits or other proven timely interventions to assess and coach patients and their caregivers are demonstrating real results. This article describes care transitions interventions, research into barriers and opportunities, and specific programs aimed at improvement.
Johnny S. Kim and Calvin L. Streeter
This article presents an overview of school absenteeism, truancy, and school refusal behaviors.
The various definitions of school truancy and absenteeism are described along with prevalence rates and correlates with school absenteeism. The article also discusses interventions and strategies that are empirically demonstrated as effective in helping school professionals increase school attendance. The article concludes by discussing ways to improve school attendance through multilevel interventions.
J. Christopher Hall
A history and description of narrative therapy is provided including empirical research, theoretical underpinnings, and the clinical process of the practice. Narrative is a postmodern, person-centered practice that promotes change through the exploration of narrative. A narrative is a series of events, linked in sequence, through time, according to a specific plot. In this approach identity is understood to be a narrative, a story of self, and narrative techniques involve exploring the meanings attributed to life events, deconstructing, and reconstructing the meaning of those events in ways that are of benefit to the client. Narrative practice is a practice of liberation in that problems are viewed as not being located inside people but in the social discourses that clients have been recruited into accepting in their lives and by which they may be self-subjugating. Narrative is a respectful, non-blaming approach, which places people as the experts of their lives, and harnesses their innate strengths, skills, and resiliencies to re-story, or re-author themselves in a more positive and enriching way.