This volume is based on the material gathered in the Third International Conference on Social Work in Health and Mental Health held in Tampere. Finland, in 2001, under the umbrella theme “Visions from Around the Globe.”
The discussions and presentations at the conference have given birth to three separate works. each addressing questions under a theme of its own, ranging from the social work viewpoint on citizenship clients, to social work methods and social work, approaches.
The focus of this volume is on different approaches and orientations of social work in health and mental health. This collection of articles brings out the diversity of social work in health and mental health and its many interfaces. The aim of the Tampere conference was to bring those doing research and developing the discipline in the academy and those developing the practice and the discipline in the field to the same forum for discussions and debate.
The articles emphasize the common global features of social work in health and mental health on the one hand and the diversity of the work on the other. This volume is thematically divided into four sections. In the first section, the focus is on the development of social work expertise in health and mental.
2: SOCIAL WORK APPROACHES IN HEALTH AND MENTAL HEALTH
The two articles in the first section span a century of social work history. from the origins of social work in health care to the challenges of today. The first article discusses the pioneering work of Richard C. Cabot in early medical social work.
The second article reports on the results of the empirical study into the composition of the expertise of today’s social workers in mental health care. What the articles in the second section share are the notion of social work in health and mental health as an agent of change in society that crosses borders, operates on many levels and across many dimensions. However, the topics of the three articles are very diverse.
The first article analyzes social work in health theoretically, developing a new interpretation of a holistic ecological model. The second article describes the challenges faced by social work start-ing from scratch in a newly independent country and the role of practice teaching as part of social development. The third article raises the question of outcomes measurement in social work in its many dimensions.
The third section emphasizes the basic questions of community-based care. It is through communities that the global and the local aspects of social work are merging together in a very interesting way.
The viewpoints of the five articles include the role of the social worker in health and mental health care as the coordinator of community-based work, finding new conceptual frameworks for work with marginalized groups, ways of understanding community work and its working principles, concern for the client-oriented perspective and various community-based forms of care.
The articles in the fourth section deal with the dual divisions so often pres-ent in social work that challenge social workers in health and mental health to become aware of and choose their own positions in work practice.
On the other hand, concern for human rights is a task that makes social workers in this field cross dual divisions. Working for human rights requires effort in all dimensions. The two articles in this section discuss these basic questions and bring clients into focus on their life situations and their conditions.
This collection of articles provides a valuable stepping stone towards understanding that the basis of social work in health and mental health is the same throughout the world despite differences between countries in terms of culture, social system, and history.
There is a common foundation of terminology, values, and basic tasks that turns out to be essential for learning from the experiences and thinking of others in creative interaction. The texts cover a long period in the history of social work in health issues. Geographically and culturally the articles cover a wide range of viewpoints from the North to the South, from the East to the West. The focus of the articles varies from theoreti-ad treatises to empirical research and analyses of practices.
approach the global dimension in a totally different way from the dominant economic discourse. What appears to be one joint basis of globality in the articles is the emphasis on the integration of theory and practice characteristics of social work in health and mental health.
It is based on the equal appreciation of different knowledge bases, according to which inquiring and theoretical thinking form an integral part of the practical work process, while in research the formation of knowledge is powered by practice.
The different origins of knowledge do not mean that knowledge is from different levels, but different types of knowledge support one another. The processes in both research and practical work follow the same basic methodological logic:
They include similar phases and produce information on questions under analysis. Appreciating both knowledge bases enables progress in social work so that writing traditions can be reformed, new methodological approaches can be created and different, also, alternative knowledge and theory can be formed. Evidence-basal social work is often referred to as a prerequisite for work development.
Nevertheless, it is important to discuss knowledge-based, re-search-based, and value-based social work as well as experience-based practice. Without all of these, it is difficult to fully realize the development of work quality, the definition of best practices, assessment of work output, and outcomes measurement.
The second joint feature of globality that the display of the article is the emergence of similar issues and themes, even though the writers come from different parts of the world. This illustrates the fact that social life is basically human and very organized. There are more similarities than differences between people. Understanding this basic truth is one of the challenges of social work in health and mental health while still seeing each person as a unique individual who attaches meanings to things and situations differently from others.
This interface between the general human and the unique individual is connected to the principle that social workers do not solve problem situations on the basis of “how things should be?’
Thirdly, joint globality is characterized in the texts by the fact that social work is carried out on many different levels.
It is this particular feature that makes social work in health and mental health so challenging: It ranges from meeting the needs of individuals, families, and communities and operating on the level of villages and municipalities to influencing welfare-related decision-making on the regional and national level and understanding also global issues affecting everyday work.
Social work action in health care is permeated by supra-cultural features and events on the one hand and an increasing dis-course on locality and people’s life context on the other. The tasks range from social development to helping individual people in their acute distress.