In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Mental Health

  • Introduction
  • Introductory Works
  • Reference Works
  • Textbooks
  • Bibliographies
  • Best Practice And Guidelines
  • General Treatments For Mental Health Disorders
  • Specific Populations

Related Articles Expand or collapse the "related articles" sectionabout

Forthcoming Articles Expand or collapse the "forthcoming articles" section


Social Work Mental Health
Kenneth R. Yeager
  • LAST REVIEWED: 28 April 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 14 December 2009
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195389678-0042


Mental illness can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, race, or income. These disorders are caused by complex interactions among physical, psychological, social, cultural, and hereditary influences. The effects of mental illness may be temporary or long lasting. Conservative estimates suggest 25 percent of the world population will be affected by some form of mental illness. Mental disorders are common in the United States and internationally. An estimated 26.2 percent of Americans age eighteen and older—about one in four adults—suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year. When applied to the 2004 United States census residential population estimate for age eighteen and older, this figure translates to 57.7 million people. Compared to other illnesses, mental illness is nearly as prevalent as heart disease (61 million) and more prevalent than diabetes (23.6 million) or cancer (11.1 million). When treated, recovery rates vary depending on the type and severity of illness. Unfortunately studies indicate that many individuals with severe mental illness remain untreated.

Introductory Works

Since it is impossible to cover all aspects of mental illness, the approach taken is to provide an overview of recent publications that offer a framework for reference as well as current information on the impact of and approaches to treatment of mental illness within modern society. Bogg 2008 provides a historical and sociological perspective on mental illness and society. Kaye and Howlett 2008 examines human response to mental disorders in children, adolescents, and adults. The landmark World Health Organization Global Burden of Disease Study (see Murray and Lopez 1996), conducted with the World Bank and Harvard University indicated that, in developed countries, five of the ten leading causes of lost years of healthy life between the ages of fifteen and forty-four were disorders or injuries related to mental illness. Articles include the work of Frazer, et al. 2009 examining how social workers diagnose mental disorders. Lin and Lee 2008 examines timeliness of treatment with rehospitalization in schizophrenia. Mojtabai 2009 discusses service gaps for the treatment of depression. Rinfrette 2009 examines the treatment of anxiety, depression, and alcohol disorders in the elderly. Rose, et al. 2009 presents an overview of screening for substance abuse in community mental health settings. Strine, et al. 2008 examines depression and anxiety prevalence in the United States.

  • Bogg, Daisy. 2008. The integration of mental health social work and the NHS. Exeter, UK: Learning Matters.

    Provides insight into the integration of social work mental health practice within the National Health System of Great Britain. It offers the opportunity to observe an integrated approach to mental health treatment.

  • Frazer, P., David Westhuis, James G. Daley, and Iris Phillips. 2009. How clinical social workers are using the DSM-IV: A national study. Social Work in Mental Health 7.4: 325–339.

    DOI: 10.1080/15332980802052100

    A national study using a seventy-two-item questionnaire was conducted to determine how social workers use DSM-IV (American Psychiatric Association 2000; see Reference Works). Findings reflected that 78.9 percent used it often to always and 85.9 percent gave a diagnosis thereby. However, only 50 percent of social workers would use it if not required to obtain reimbursement from third-party payers.

  • Kaye, Charles, and Michael Howlett, eds. 2008. Mental health services today and tomorrow. Oxford and New York: Radcliffe.

    Traces past and present models of mental health services and anticipates future health service delivery challenges. This book examines developments in care and the implications of new organizational change. Possibly the most important contribution is the international perspective provided.

  • Lin, Herng-Chin, and Hsin-Chien Lee. 2008. The association between timely outpatient visits and the likelihood of rehospitalization for schizophrenia patients. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 78.4: 494–497.

    DOI: 10.1037/a0014515

    Examines the association between timely outpatient visits and early rehospitalization in schizophrenia patients. After adjusting for gender, age, substance use, and length of stay, this study identifies that patients failing to attend any outpatient appointments within two months after discharge had significantly higher rehospitalization rates.

  • Mojtabai, Ramin. 2009. Unmet need for treatment of major depression in the United States. Psychiatric Services 60:297–305.

    DOI: 10.1176/

    Examines the extent and correlates of perceived unmet need for treatment among individuals with depression in the United States. Mojtabai concludes that rates of treatment seeking have increased and the rate of persons with major depression accessing services is primarily related to the cost of services.

  • Murray, Christopher J. L., and Alan D. Lopez, eds. 1996. The Global Burden of Disease. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

    This landmark study conducted by the World Health Organization, the World Bank, and Harvard University indicated that, in developed countries, five of the ten leading causes of lost years of healthy life between the ages of fifteen and forty-four were disorders or injuries related to mental illness. See table 5.4 on page 270.

  • Rinfrette, Elaine S. 2009. Treatment of anxiety, depression, and alcohol disorders in the elderly: Social work collaboration in primary care. Journal of Evidence-based Social Work 6.1: 79–91.

    Engagement of the older adult in mental health and substance abuse treatment has been found to be more successful if it occurs in collaboration with primary care treatment. Emphasis is placed on the role that social workers can play within primary care physician offices.

  • Rose, Susan J., Michael J. Brondino, and Jessica L. Barnack. 2009. Screening for problem substance use in community-based agencies. Journal of Social Work Practice in the Addictions 9.1: 41–54.

    DOI: 10.1080/15332560802664938

    Over a three-year period the authors screened 14,162 persons requesting both substance-use-specific and non-substance-use-specific services with the Rapid Alcohol Problem Screen. The percentage of positives by agency type were reported as 57.8 percent for mental health and substance abuse services, 53.6 percent for mental health services, and 58.6 percent for health care.

  • Strine, Tara W., Ali H. Mokdad, Lina S. Balluz, Olinda Gonzalez, Raquel Crider, Joyce T. Berry, and Kurt Kroenke. 2008. Depression and anxiety in the United States: Findings from the 2006 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. Psychiatric Services 59:1383–1390.

    DOI: 10.1176/

    Examines the unadjusted and adjusted prevalence estimates of depression and anxiety at the state level and the odds ratios of depression and anxiety for selected risk behaviors, obesity, and chronic diseases.

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