SOWK 450 (3 cr): Social Work Practice in Community Mental Health

Course Description

This course offers a critical overview and analysis of the provision of services to mentally ill persons, with a focus on North American settings and British Columbia in particular. The content includes: psychiatric concepts and terminology; explanatory models in psychiatry; diagnostic classification systems, especially the DSM IV; stakeholder perspectives; major policy changes past and present; medical management and psychotropic medication; an introduction to cognitive-behavioural treatments; cultural competence; and, legal and ethical issues in mental health practice. This course reviews the best practices and core competencies currently emphasized in community mental health settings in Canada.

Intended Students

Intended for undergraduate students in social work. Graduate social work students may be accepted with permission of instructor.

Course Objectives

At the completion of this course, students will:

  • Understand the historical and political contexts of social work practice in community mental health.
  • Recognize the core concepts and approaches relevant to social work practice in the field of mental health.
  • Recognize current best practices in mental health and how this concept is applied.
  • Understand the benefits and risks associated with pharmacological treatment.
  • Recognize tensions and opportunities for collaboration between stakeholder groups in psychiatry.
  • Describe legal and ethical issues in mental health practice.

Course Requirements

  1. Class discussion: 30 percent.
  2. Written assignment: 30 percent.
  3. Final exam: 40 percent. (Open book.)

Course Readings

All the course readings are available online. In general, the rationale for course readings are (1) relevance, (2) Canadian authors where possible, and (3) available on-line. Access to journals and the text (e-book) is via the UBC Library webpage, and to other documents via a direct internet link. The course will use the instructor’s own text Community Mental Health in Canada (UBC Press, Revised and expanded edition, 2013) for a portion of the readings: this is available as an e-book via the UBC library website.

SOWK450 Textbook Order Form