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The CSW’s Guide to Common Mental Illnesses

September 16, 2015

community services worker careers

The term mental illness refers to a wide range of disorders that can affect a person’s mood, thinking and behaviour. Mental illness can be caused by a combination of genetic, biological and environmental factors.

One in five Canadian adults will suffer from mental illness in their lives. Unfortunately, because there is a stigma attached to mental illness, many sufferers are stereotyped by their communities. This can prevent them from fitting into communities, and it can also deter them from receiving proper diagnosis and treatment.

Mental illness affects people of all ages, educational backgrounds and cultures. In fact, it touches the lives of many in one way or another—whether an individual is diagnosed, or he or she has family or friends who have been diagnosed.

If you are planning to pursue a community services worker career, read on to learn about a few types of mental illness you might help treat during your career.

Community Service Workers Help Treat Anxiety Disorders

Professionals in community services worker careers often help treat people with anxiety disorders. Experts know that there are multiple types of anxiety, such as generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and more.

Clients with anxiety disorders respond to certain people, objects, or situations with irrational levels of fear or dread. Along with these feelings, they may also experience physical symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, dizziness and sweating.  An anxiety disorder is generally diagnosed when a person’s response to a given situation is extreme, or if a person’s anxiety interferes with his or her normal functioning.

Professionals with CSW Training Help Treat Clients with Mood Disorders

Community service workers often help treat clients with mood disorders (also referred to as affective disorders). Clients with mood disorders usually experience prolonged feelings of sadness. However, they may also experience severe mood swings, or periods of uncharacteristic bursts of happiness.

During your CSW training, you’ll learn that one of the most common mood disorders that many people suffer from is depression. Community service workers know that a person experiencing depression copes with feelings of severe sorrow for an extended period of time. Depression can affect all aspects of a person’s life including their relationships, physical health and emotions.

Other mood disorders include bi-polar disorder and cyclothymic disorder. While a person with bipolar disorder can be subject to extreme feelings of sadness or irritability as well as episodes of mania, someone with cyclothymic disorder can experience less extreme versions of these mood changes.

CSWs Help Clients Affected By Addiction Disorders

Addiction disorders are another common form of mental illness. Individuals suffering from addiction are typically unable to stop using addictive substances like drugs and alcohol. They grow dependent on such substances and this dependence begins to interfere with their ordinary life responsibilities, such as work, relationships and health.

Another form of mental illness, known as impulse control disorder, refers to the inability to resist a temptation, urge or impulse that can cause harm to the individual or to others.  Impulse control disorders can include compulsive gambling, eating disorders, stealing and more.

Are you interested in learning more by earning your community services worker diploma? Visit NAHB for more information or to speak with an advisor.

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