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The Relationship Between Addictions and Mental Health: An Overview for Students in CSW Training

2018-03-07 by Mark Harrington

community services worker college

Community Services Workers (CSWs) will almost invariably encounter individuals living with both an addiction and a mental health issue. The connections between these two sets of issues can be complex, and can be a source of some distress for those individuals living with them both. In completing training that covers both areas, future community services workers can better understand the experiences of individuals with mental health and additions issues, and thereby offer them greater assistance in managing their conditions.

Here is a closer look at the relationship between addictions and mental health.

Addiction and Mental Health Issues: An Established Connection

Many Canadians live with a mental illness. In fact, a recent study indicated that an estimated 3 million Canadian adults (11.6 per cent of the population) reported that they lived with a mood and/or anxiety disorder. In addition, an estimated 9.2 of Canadians will develop PTSD, and approximately 1 per cent of Canadians live with schizophrenia. All in all, statistics demonstrate that roughly half the population will experience a mental illness at some point in their life.

Other studies have demonstrated that people who have a mental illness are more likely to also form an addiction. The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health states that “People with a mental illness are twice as likely to have a substance use problem compared to the general population,” and that “At least 20% of people with a mental illness have a co-occurring substance use problem.”

Graduates of CSW Courses Know Certain Substances Can Exacerbate Mental Health Issues

While establishing which condition typically “comes first” remains difficult, graduates of CSW training will observe that many substances, including alcohol, stimulants, and opioids can have a negative effect on mental health. According to some studies, “people with substance use problems are up to 3 times more likely to have a mental illness.”

In fact, addiction can sometimes be recognized in individuals before any official diagnosis concerning mental health is made, and may even serve as an early indicator of mental illness. Conversely, it’s possible for an addiction to develop later on, after a mental illness has grown in severity to a point where an individual feels compelled to self-medicate to find relief.

Grads of CSW courses will know this relationship is commonly a destructive one. Many drugs—including prescription opioids, amphetamines, cocaine, and others—can alter brain chemistry, potentially exacerbating issues for those with a mental illness.

Drug use can exacerbate mental illness

Drug use can exacerbate mental illness

Professionals With CSW Training Can Help Break the Cycle

When it comes to taking action to help an individual who has an addiction and mental illness, certain approaches can be especially beneficial. Notably, experts have consistently pointed towards reducing the stigma surrounding both of these conditions.

For many individuals, stigma can discourage them from seeking the help of a trained CSW. In addition, many people living with an addiction and a mental illness can themselves believe the stereotypes surrounding these conditions, in turn believing that they might not be worthy of care. By showing compassion and understanding throughout your career, you can help eliminate these barriers to recovery. By showing both clients and the public that these conditions do not define the value of a person, you can help demonstrate that all members of the community deserve love, respect, and the care they need to recover and thrive.

Do you want to help individuals in need in your community?

Contact NAHB to learn how community service worker college can prepare you for this truly rewarding career.

What Are “Talk-in” Clinics? A Quick Intro for Students in Community Services Worker Courses

2018-01-31 by Mark Harrington

community service worker diploma

If you’re looking to become a community services worker, then you may have heard of talk-in clinics, a new type of service that has begun appearing in Ontario. Whether you’ve heard of the term or not, you may be wondering what a talk-in clinic is. Essentially, it’s a walk-in counselling service, allowing for quick access to counsellors and support services for children, youth, and families. Each talk-in clinic may be a little different, but generally the services are free of charge.

Because of how talk-in clinics operate, they can be a great benefit to an individual who might otherwise hesitate to seek counselling due to inconveniences associated with scheduling or costs. To have some more light shed on this relatively new phenomenon, and learn why it’s so important, keep reading!

How Exactly Does a Talk-in Clinic Work?

Probably the most significant aspect of how a talk-in clinic works is that an individual seeking counselling services can simply walk in. No appointment or referral is required. The aim of this up-front approach to counselling is to significantly reduce wait times for clients. When a new client arrives, they immediately receive a counselling session rather than being put on a waitlist. If there are many people in the clinic on a given day, then a client may be offered to schedule an appointment for a later date, but the wait time in such a case is still very short.

community services worker college

Talk-in clinics are for children, youth, and their families

The benefit of being able to receive counselling immediately is that a client will receive useful feedback and steps for addressing their needs from the outset. Such up-front counselling offers clients the opportunity to explore their needs as soon as they may require it, as well as to develop strategies that may be helpful in addressing those needs. Armed with a summary of their discussion with the counsellor, they are able to leave the clinic better prepared to identify and engage in next steps.

Clients in Need of Multiple Types of Counselling May Be Able to Find Them All in One Place

Some talk-in clinics have combined multiple types of services in one place, thus allowing for improved access for individuals and families who might be in need of more than one service. Students at community services worker college know that sometimes a person may be in need of assistance on multiple fronts, and this is exactly what this amalgamation of various services is trying to address.

If it’s discovered, for example, that an individual in a general counselling session is experiencing problems related to sexual assault, then they may be referred to another service within the clinic that is specialized in addressing this particular need. In this way, clients are able to access multiple necessary services in one location. The savings this allots through reducing time in relation to scheduling, traveling, and waiting to be seen can make getting help much more accessible to many individuals.

Talk-In Clinics Offer Measures for Those in Need of Critical Assistance

Though each talk-in clinic may differ, generally only one session of counselling is offered. However, this doesn’t mean talk-in clinics are not equipped to address the needs of individuals requiring crisis counselling or timely intake for multiple sessions. Should an individual require ongoing services, assistance is provided in choosing and accessing these services, and support is also provided in the form of individualized action and safety plans to be followed when an individual is waiting for the other services to begin.

Students in Community Services Worker College Know the Important of Front-Line Assistance

Those studying for a community service worker diploma know that receiving counselling assistance as soon as possible is crucial to preventing the onset of potentially serious crises. Unfortunately, up-front counselling is not always available to those who may need it the most. In Ontario, the provision of front-line mental health care is underfunded, and the amount of youth visiting the ER seeking help for a mental health crisis has been on the rise. Direct and easily accessible support in communities for youth can help prevent such crises. The advent of talk-in clinics in Ontario can be beneficial especially for this purpose, and it will be interesting for those in community services professions to monitor further developments in this area.

community service worker courses

Easily accessible support within communities is important for preventing mental health crises

Are you seeking to enter a profession where you can help people in need?

Explore the community services worker courses offered by NAHB!

3 Tips for Better Business Communication You Can Use in CSW Courses

2017-01-18 by Mark Harrington

Students in Community Services Worker College Should Be Clear and Concise

Community service workers (CSWs) play an important role in communities across Canada. CSWs improve the lives of others by providing support services to vulnerable individuals and families. Students looking for a challenging, rewarding, and impactful career will find becoming a CSW a great option.

After CSW training you will be qualified to work for many different organizations. For example, after graduation you may find yourself working at a group home as an addictions worker or at a correctional facility as a life skills coach. No matter the specific role, the nature of the work completed by CSWs requires sensitivity and highly effective communication skills. Having these skills can help you advance in your career and connect with the public more effectively.

Read on to discover three tips for effective communication in the workplace as a CSW.

1. Students in Community Services Worker College Should Be Clear and Concise

While working as a CSW you will communicate constantly throughout your day not only with clients, but also with coworkers, management, and other organizations. In any career it’s important to present yourself as a qualified professional. You can do just that by demonstrating proper business communication skills.

During your training you will take CSW courses that teach the basics of business communication. Business communication can include emails, memos, phone calls, presentations, and more. One important component of good business communication is being concise and to the point. Whether you are communicating within an organization or externally, it’s important to say everything as simply as possible.

Keep your sentences short to make it easier for readers to quickly scan your communication. In business writing, shorter writing is better. A great tip for making sure your message is concise and clear is to identify the purpose of the communication. Does what you wrote fulfill that purpose? Is it free of any other information that could be distracting? If it is, that means it’s effective. Practice asking yourself these questions to make sure that your communications stay on topic, both during your studies and once you begin your career.

2. Students in CSW Courses Should Adjust Their Communication Style to Each Audience

Knowing who you’re speaking to should guide the communication style you use. For example, once you become a community services worker you may find you communicate differently with a young child who has suffered abuse than you would with a troubled teenager. By changing your communication style you can connect with your audience more effectively.

Are you speaking with a company to try to get donations? Perhaps you should adopt a more professional tone. Are you writing to volunteers? Try communicating in an excited and passionate voice. By changing your style and tone, you’ll help make sure that you’re on the same page as your audience.

CSWs should alter their communication style depending on who they are speaking to

CSWs should alter their communication style depending on who they are speaking to

3. Students in CSW Courses Should Place Emphasis on Their Listening Skills

Practicing excellent listening skills is paramount when it comes to business communication. Understandably, it’s easy to fall into the habit of non-active listening when you have many things on your mind. However, in order to foster great relationships with coworkers, other organizations, and your clients, active and attentive listening is necessary.

Some simple methods you can put into practice to help you become a better listener are hiding distractions, like your cell phone or other documents, out of sight while listening. In addition, keeping eye contact during a conversation can improve your active listening skills.

By implementing these skills during your studies and future career you can excel as a CSW and communicator!

Do you want to enroll in community services worker college?

Contact the National Academy of Health and Business today!

5 Effective Interview Techniques You’ll Learn in CSW Courses

2016-03-23 by Mark Harrington

Psychiatrist and oppressed woman patient

During your community services worker (CSW) program, you’ll receive the practical and hands-on knowledge you need to succeed in the field. Your CSW courses will teach you all about crisis intervention, addictions and mental health, case management and much more. However, a very important part of your role as a counsellor will include interviewing clients in order to gather information and establish relationships with them. That’s why you’ll also learn about some of the most effective interview techniques.

Counselling professionals know that an ‘interview’ refers to a meeting or session with a client. And a few interview techniques include how a counsellor carries themselves, asks questions, and guides discussions.

If you’re planning to become a CSW, read on for a closer look at five useful interview techniques you’ll learn in your training.

1. CSW Training Will Teach You to Use Open-Ended Questions

In order to build a rapport with your clients, you’ll need to ask a lot of questions. However, during your CSW training, you’ll learn that how you ask a question can determine the depth of a client’s answer. While closed-ended questions like “did you have a good week?” typically evoke simple yes or no answers, open-ended questions will encourage clients to reflect and provide longer responses as well as more information. For instance, you might instead say “tell me about your week”—this will elicit a far more meaningful response than discovering whether or not their week was good.

2. Probing Questions Will Help You Delve Deeper with Clients

Once you begin interviewing clients, you’ll find that the use of probing questions is helpful in situations where you want to encourage them to dig a little deeper and share more information. A probing question can help clients look closely at a particular situation, feeling or behaviour, which is a helpful part of creating positive change. A classic example of a probing question is “how did that make you feel?” Other examples include “could you tell me more about that particular situation?” and “what do you mean by that?”

3. You’ll Learn Active Listening Skills in Your CSW Courses

One of the most effective interview techniques you’ll learn in your CSW courses is active listening. Active listening refers to listening and responding to your clients in a way that builds mutual understanding. Your body language, for example, reflects the amount of attention you’re giving when a client is speaking. It’s important to remain in a relaxed position and to be conscious of your facial expressions at all times.

For example, if a client is sharing a very emotional experience and you’re staring at them with wide eyes, they might feel judged. On the other hand, nodding at appropriate times is a non-verbal cue that will show them you’re paying attention and encourage them to continue.

4. CSW Training Will Teach You to Rephrase and Use Verbal Cues

Verbalization also plays a key role in counselling. During your training, you’ll learn to maintain a calm voice and give small verbal cues, such as saying ‘yes’ when a  client is explaining something. Trained experts know that this can help encourage them to share more.

Rephrasing is also a great way to ensure your client feels heard and to get a better understanding of what they are saying. When a client is finished sharing, try summarizing what they said to make sure you’re on the same page.

5. You’ll Master the Art of Successfully Ending an Interview

Clients rarely check the time during sessions, so there’s a chance that they could be in the midst of sharing when an interview has reached its end. It’s important to remember that no one likes being interrupted, especially when discussing something emotional. That’s why you’ll need to find ways to end your interviews very carefully once you start your career.

One way you can accomplish this is to tell your clients how much time is left in an interview approximately 5 to 10 minutes before it ends. This way, the remainder of the interview can be used to review what has been discussed, set goals for the coming week, or to ask clients if they have anything else they’d like to discuss.

Want to learn more about effective interview techniques by enrolling in a community services worker college?

Visit NAHB for program details or to speak with an advisor. 


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