By reason of general recognition of the above a demand has arisen for psychiatric social work and special training is being provided.1
Not everybody is equipped for psychiatric social work. The psychiatric social worker must be a person with certain natural qualifications. She must, of course, be intelligent, well-balanced, sympathetic, and adaptable, with the ability to meet all sorts of persons and a manner that wins confidence. She must have a strong interest in individuals and a liking to follow them into the scenes of their daily lives. She needs considerable patience. Ability to think clearly and to make close observations is indispensable. A high degree of disinterestedness is essential; for the social worker must be ready at all times to give service to the patients without discrimination.
Training for psychiatric social work assumes a preliminary foundation in biology, psychology, sociology, economics, and political science. In addition to these fundamental branches, there should be courses in social legislation, social statistics, labor problems, organization of social work, and training, with practice work in the technique of social case work. There should also be elementary instruction in the essentials of medicine. Finally, there should be a course in social psychiatry, which would include the principles of mental hygiene, the main groups and simpler indicators of mental disorders with a general view of their governmental, social, family, and personal significances.
Opportunities for practice work have been afforded to students in various mental clinics and through interne-ships and externeships in certain hospitals for mental disease, including Manhattan and Brooklyn State Hospitals, in New York, and Boston State and Psychopathic Hospitals, in Massachusetts.
1 George M. Kline. Social Service in the State Hospital. Proceedings, American Medico-Psychological Association, 1916. - C. Macfie Campbell, M.D. The Mental Health of the Community and the Work of the Psychiatric Dispensary. Mental Hygiene, Oct., 1917. - E. E. Southard. Mental Hygiene and Social Work: Notes on a Course in Social Psychiatry for Social Workers. Mental Hygiene, July, 1918.
The first systematic course of this kind to be given was the war emergency course conducted by Smith College and the Boston Psychopathic Hospital (1918-1919).1 Out of this course grew the Smith College Training School for Social Work, in which training in psychiatric social work is offered. Similar courses are given at the New York School of Social Work, New York, and the Pennsylvania School of Social Service, Philadelphia.
The psychiatric social worker is to be found not only in hospitals, but wherever psychiatrists are engaged in the study and treatment of mental disorders. In courts, reformatories, schools, social agencies the social worker with special knowledge of neuro-psychiatric cases is needed. There are signs that it may not be long before large industries maintaining a medical service for employees shall have psychiatrists on their medical staffs. It is probable that industrial hygiene will soon be extended to include mental hygiene. In that case a new demand for psychiatric social workers will be created.