Get To Know Your Mental Health Specialist – Nur Afiqah Fauzi

There are differences in the roles of social workers and psychologists in attending to patients with mental health issues.

With the increasing number of mental health cases, it is important for us to acknowledge the sources that can help us, which can either be from private or government bodies.

To our knowledge, there is some confusion, due to a lack of information on medical officers’ roles in treating patients with mental health issues. This article aims to educate the public on the roles of social workers and psychologists with regard to mental health.

The Different Roles Of Social Workers And Psychologists

Social workers aim to contribute to the better well-being of society, both physically and mentally. As the roles of social workers are seen to be almost the same as those of psychologists, some people might have problems with who they should refer to. Some differences do exist in treating mental health issues. 

Social workers are largely involved in community programmes that promote healthy well-being. In Malaysia, social workers are usually found in volunteer programmes where they can help participants with social aspects. Some can provide counselling, based on their expertise.

On the other hand, social workers at hospitals have specific job descriptions, and they only attend to patients referred to them by the management. 

Known as medical social workers or Pekerja Sosial Perubatan, their role is to initiate an interview session with referred patients to identify what kind of help is needed, whether it is related to financial assistance, social support, psychological support, or health care support.

They also cooperate with various bodies, including private and government organisations, to handle abuse cases, financial assistance, and others.

However, based on my internship experience, most of the referred cases involve health care support, which come under the Ministry of Health. They will also contact the specialist and other relevant parties if the patients need further diagnosis or treatment.

To our knowledge, social workers do help members of the public to improve their well-being. However, they do not specifically conduct psychological assessments and treat patients. They will refer any cases involving mental health issues to psychiatrists or psychologists, if needed.

Psychologists are responsible for attending to patients with mental health issues. There are various types of psychologists, including clinical psychologists, organisational psychologists, and developmental psychologists.  

Psychologists will conduct written or observational assessments of patients, and they also plan intervention sessions to help patients overcome their issues.

Psychologists usually work directly with patients with mental health issues, especially when they have been officially diagnosed.

However, we should acknowledge that a patient with mental health issues who needs medication will be referred to a psychiatrist, who specialises in treating the patients medically. 

In conclusion, we can see the differences in the roles of social workers and psychologists in attending to patients with mental health issues. This is very important so that members of the public will know where to go if they need any help related to mental health. 

Nur Afiqah Fauzi is a postgraduate student at International Islamic University Malaysia.

  • This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of CodeBlue.

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