Teaching Students the Importance of Community Engagement and Awareness in the Areas of Mental Health and Addiction

  • Manoj PardasaniEmail author
Part of the Advances in Mental Health and Addiction book series (AMHA)


Social work is community practice. Although many students of social work prefer to focus on gaining direct practice knowledge and skills, the need for them to be able to engage within communities is essential to them being effective practitioners. Social work has always emphasized the person-in-environment approach addressing individual and social problems. Since the 1960s, the treatment of mental health and addictions in the field has transferred progressively from large, in-patient institutions to community-based organizations. Practice in this field has become synonymous with community practice in the present day. Therefore, it requires social workers to adopt the systems approach to providing effective and impactful treatment for the affected population. This chapter helps to define the evolving meaning of community, illustrate the basic concepts of community practice, and highlight the benefits of community engagement in the field of mental health and addictions. Critical skills necessarily to practice in the community context while ensuring health well-being of the individuals and families we serve are elucidated.


Addictions Mental health Treatment Community practice 


  1. Abendstern, M., Tucker, S., Wilbeforce, M., Jasper, R., Brand, C., & Challis, D. (2016). Social workers as members of community mental health teams for older people: What is the added value? British Journal of Social Work, 46, 63–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Asamoah, P., Gill, S., Foster, E., & Mummery, C. (2016). Receive information. Reduce stigma. Reflect on strategies: The caregiver series. Canadian Journal of Community Mental Health, 35(3), 119–123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Association for Community Organization and Social Administration (2017). Macro social work practice: MSW. Retrieved from
  4. Aubry, T., Flynn, R., Virley, B., & Neri, J. (2013). Social role valorization in community mental health housing: Does it continue to the community integration and life satisfaction of people with psychiatric disabilities. Journal of Community Psychology, 41(2), 218–235.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  5. Baillie, L., Broughton, S., Bassett-Smith, J., Aasen, W., Oostrinde, M., Marino, B. A., et al. (2004). Community health, community involvement and community empowerment: Too much to expect? Journal of Community Psychology, 32(2), 217–228.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Barker, R. L. (1999). The social work dictionary (4th ed.). Washington, DC: NASW Press.Google Scholar
  7. Bava, S., Coffey, E., Weingarten, K., & Becker, C. (2010). Lessons in collaboration, four years post-Katrina. Family Process, 49(4), 543–558.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Beasley, C., & Jason, L. (2015). Engagement and disengagement in mutual-help addiction recovery housing: A test of affective events theory. American Journal of Community Psychology, 55, 347–358.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  9. Boehm, A., & Cohen, A. (2013). Commitment to community practice among social work students: Contributing factors. Journal of Social Work Education, 49, 601–618.Google Scholar
  10. Chronister, J., Chou, C., & Liaso, H. (2013). The role of stigma, coping and social support in mediating the effect of societal stigma on internalized stigma, mental health recovery and quality of life among people with serious mental illness. Journal of Community Psychology, 41(5), 582–600.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cimino, A., Mendoza, N., Thieleman, K., Shively, R., & Kunz, K. (2015). Women reentering community: Understanding addiction and trauma-related characteristics of recidivism. Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 25, 468–476.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Council on Social Work Education. (2015). Educational policy and accreditation standards for baccalaureate and master’s social work programs. Washington, DC: CSWE.Google Scholar
  13. Das, C., O’Neill, M., & Pinkerton, J. (2016). Re-engaging with community work as a method of practice in social work: A view from Northern Ireland. Journal of Social Work, 16(2), 196–215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. DeHart, D. D. (2010). Collaboration between victim services and faith organizations: Benefits, challenges and recommendations. Journal of Religion & Spirituality in Social Work, 29(4), 349–371.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Germain, C., & Gitterman, A. (1995). Ecological perspective. In R. L. Edwards (Ed.), Encyclopedia of social work (19th ed.). Washington, DC: NASW.Google Scholar
  16. Hardcastle, D., Powers, P., & Wenocur, S. (2011). Community practice: Theories, and skills for social workers (3rd ed.). London: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Hodge, J., Struckmann, D., & Trost, L. (1975). Spirituality and people with mental illness: Developing spiritual competence in assessment and intervention. Families in Society, 85, 36–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kirst-Ashman, K., & Hull, G., Jr. (2011). Generalist practice with organizations and communities (4th ed.). Toronto, Canada: Brooks/Cole.Google Scholar
  19. Lemieux, C., Richards, K., Hunter, D., & Kasofsky, J. (2015). Interrelationships among physical health, health-related and psychosocial characteristics of persons receiving integrated care in community mental health settings. Journal of Social Service Research, 41(5), 561–583.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Lum, D. (2010). Culturally competent practice: A framework for understanding diverse groups and justice issues (4th ed.). New York: Thompson.Google Scholar
  21. Mason, S., & Fogel, S. (2013). Prevention, community engagement and social work. Families in Society, 94(3), 139–140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Matthew, R. (2017). Community engagement: Behavior strategies to enhance the quality of participatory partnerships. Journal of Community Psychology, 45(1), 117–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Netting, F., Kettner, P., & McMurtry, S. (1993). Social work macro practice. New York: Longman.Google Scholar
  24. Ngo, V., Sherbourne, C., Chung, B., Wright, A., Whittington, Y., Wells, K., et al. (2016). Community engagement compared with technical assistance to disseminate depression care among low-income, minority women: A randomized controlled effectiveness study. American Journal of Public Health, 106, 1833–1841.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  25. Ozbay, F., Johnson, D., Dimoulas, E., Morgan, C., III, Charney, D., & Southwick, S. (2006). Social support and resilience to stress. Psychiatry (Edgmont), 4(5), 35–40.Google Scholar
  26. Patel, K., Butler, B., & Wells, K. (2006). What is necessary to transform the quality of mental health care? Health Affairs, 25(3), 681–693.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Rosenberg, J., & Rosenberg, S. (2016). Community mental health: Challenges for the 21st century. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  28. Sands, R. (2001). Clinical social work practice in behavioral mental health: A postmodern approach to practice with adults (2nd ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.Google Scholar
  29. Sands, R. G., & Angell, B. (2001). Social workers as collaborators on interagency and interdisciplinary teams. In K. J. Bentley (Ed.), Social work practice in mental health (pp. 254–280). Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole.Google Scholar
  30. Sather, P., Weitz, B., & Carlson, P. (2007). Engaging students in macro issues through community-based learning: The policy, practice and research sequence. Journal of Teaching in Social Work, 27(3/4), 61–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Silverman, S. (2001). Social workers as advocates and community organizers. In K. J. Bentley (Ed.), Social work practice in mental health (pp. 281–296). Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole.Google Scholar
  32. Smyth, N., Siriwardhana, C., Hotopf, M., & Hatch, S. (2015). Social networks, social support and psychiatric symptoms: Social determinants and associations within a multicultural community population. Social Psychiatry, 50(7), 1111–1120.Google Scholar
  33. Steiner, A. (2016). Assessing the effectiveness of a capacity building intervention in empowering hard-to-reach communities. Journal of Community Practice, 24(3), 235–263.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2016). Cultural competence. Retrieved from
  35. Talebi, M., Matheson, K., & Anisman, H. (2016). The stigma of seeking help for mental health issues: Mediating roles of support and coping and the moderating role of symptom profile. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 46, 470–482.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Taxman, F., & Belenko, S. (2012). Implementing evidence-based practices in community corrections and addiction treatment. New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Thomas, M. L., Netting, F. E., & O’Connor, M. K. (2011). A framework for teaching community practice. Journal of Social Work Education, 47(2), 337–355.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Tippin, G., Maranzan, K., & Mountain, M. A. (2016). Client outcomes associated with interprofessional care in a community mental health outpatient program. Canadian Journal of Community Mental Health, 30(3), 83–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. U.S. Department for Health and Human Services. (2013). Affordable care act expands mental health and substance use disorder benefits. February 20, 2013. Retrieved from
  40. Verhaeghe, M., Bracke, P., & Christiaens, W. (2010). Stigma and client satisfaction in mental health services. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 40, 2295–2318.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate School of Social ServiceFordham UniversityNew YorkUSA

Personalised recommendations