Mental health in America is in crisis. Millions of individuals live with mental illnesses. Many of these same individuals could benefit from treatment in an inpatient setting, including case management. In the sections that follow, we’ take a look at this important feature of treatment and explore what makes it a life-saving pathway to better mental health.
Introduction to Mental Health Case Management
Mental health case management is relevant to anyone who seeks inpatient treatment for a mental illness. According to figures from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), about 51.5 million people in the United States experience mental illness. Some 13.1 million have such intense mental health issues that daily functioning suffers dramatically.
Research shows that adults who experience a substance use disorder in the past year are much less likely to be in meaningful recovery. The overall percentage of recovering adults tends to be lower among individuals with severe psychological distress, co-occurring (dual diagnosis) mental illness and substance use disorder, and marijuana, cocaine, or alcohol use.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, recovery is a process of change during which individuals:
- Can improve their wellness and health
- Enjoy lives of self-direction
- Pursue goals to achieve their full potential
What Is Case Management in Mental Health?
If you are familiar with case management in other fields, such as social work, mental health case management doesn’t seem so foreign. With case management, a case manager or key clinician coordinates a customized plan of care for the patient. This plan of care consists of some recovery goals, strategies, and services to support the individual during inpatient treatment and beyond, as they transition into life after treatment.
Mental health case management can also serve as a safety net for society’s most vulnerable people. These are individuals with one or more mental health disorders or psychiatric illnesses, substance use problems (such as alcohol use disorder), and other challenges in their personal lives. Mental health case management seeks to advocate for individuals who cannot do this independently.
When someone first comes into contact with mental health professionals and mentions the topic of mental health case management, they may ask, “What is case management in mental health?” The short answer is that this is a service provided by psychiatric professionals to help individuals with mental health issues become healthy, confident, self-reliant, and reintegrate back into society.
The Role of Case Managers in Supporting Mental Health
While many know what psychiatrists and psychologists do, most are unfamiliar with the mental health case manager role. What duties does a mental health case manager perform? Like a case manager in hospital settings, a case manager for mental health has specific roles and responsibilities.
Mental health case managers typically obtain a Bachelor of Science in mental health services. They can also become board-certified as a case manager (such as the professional credential from the Commission for Case Manager Certification) or a state credential (such as the Florida Certified Behavioral Health Case Manager). They are experts in case management psychology.
What Does a Mental Health Case Manager Do?
The routine of a mental health case manager is varied. Their daily activities and responsibilities include the following:
- Assess the needs of the individual and determine what support systems are available
- Crisis planning
- Assist individuals in developing coping mechanisms
- Offer a thorough explanation of various mental health scenarios
- Listen and act with compassion
- Monitor and coordinate the individual’s use of needed services
- Provide referrals, as needed, to appropriate resources (including housing, vocational training), medical professionals, mental health hotlines
The mental health case manager works closely with each individual to develop targeted treatment plans best suited to their needs. The treatment plan is created following a comprehensive assessment of the individual’s strengths, personal needs, triggers of a psychological nature, and other pertinent details.
Next, the mental health case manager looks at the individual’s barriers before returning to living independently. The goal is to remove or resolve as many of them as possible.
The follow-up phase in mental health case management involves winding down the frequency of visits. The goal here is the individual’s eventual program discharge. Their case manager determines whether the action steps outlined in their plan have been followed. Specific assessment areas include:
- Ability to grow and maintain interpersonal relationships
- Increased functional abilities
- Improved family relationships
- Reduction in hospitalizations
- Better quality of life
- Less reliance on community programs
Benefits and Outcomes of Effective Case Management
Anyone struggling with mental illness needs and deserves treatment that helps preserve their dignity and self-respect, enhances their quality of life, and assists them in becoming more self-reliant. Effective mental health case management can help them achieve those outcomes.
An effective mental health case manager helps individuals use their innate strengths, such as personality and other skills, to develop and support a more positive, healthier attitude.
Since these case managers are deeply rooted in their communities, they’re best suited to knowing where to get much-needed resources. They have an extensive knowledge of mental health and assessing psychiatric needs and are experts in case management psychology. Most of all, they serve as an unwavering accountability partner to help individuals remain on track, cheering them on, providing encouragement, and helping them see the ultimate goal: regaining independence and full functionality.
How to Access and Utilize Case Management Services for Improved Mental Health
If you or someone you know experiences a severe mental illness, such as depression, anxiety, or addiction, and could benefit from mental health case management services, where do you start getting help? Hopefully, you’ve found answers to the question, “What is case management in mental health?” Now, let’s look at the next steps.
Residential Treatment Offers Built-In Program Benefits
When someone with a dual diagnosis (substance use and mental health disorders) receives treatment for both disorders simultaneously at a residential treatment facility, the mental health case manager is instrumental in:
- Helping the individual move from treatment back into the community
- Identifying and accessing resources
- Providing longing, long-term support so the individual can better function in the community
If the residential treatment is sequential, the case manager, familiar with case management psychology, assists the individual in moving from a mental health treatment program to substance abuse treatment or vice versa.
During parallel treatment for dual diagnosis, the case manager facilitates and coordinates communication and service between treatment programs.
Built-In Program Benefits with Residential Treatment
Residential treatment offers many built-in program benefits for individuals with severe mental illness and substance abuse or addiction. these include:
- Supervised care on a 24-hour basis
- Increased level of care
- Structure and stability throughout treatment
- Access to multi-modal therapies and holistic options (individual and group therapy, medication, meditation, physical fitness, yoga, mindfulness, art therapy, and more)
- A supportive group environment
- Targeted, comprehensive, and integrated rehab and recovery
- Developing effective coping habits and skills
- Preparing a relapse prevention plan
- Transitioning to outpatient care
Access to Aftercare
Mental health case managers also help coordinate long-term aftercare and connect the individual to much-needed resources.
It can be overwhelming to begin addressing mental illness and substance use, compounded by continuing real-world struggles, other health conditions, and issues. Yet help is available to decode the mystery and answer your questions.
Our experts at Restore-Mental Health are on-call to assist you with all your mental and behavioral health needs. Our whole-health treatment approach facilitates recovery:
- Whether it’s a referral to appropriate resources
- Finding out how to get into residential treatment
- Learning what type of treatment is available
- Getting answers to what program benefits may apply
- Learning how to access mental health case management
At Restore-Mental Health, we promise that you don’t have to go through this alone. Together, we can discuss your needs and help you chart the path to transform your life. Recovery is possible from mental health problems and substance use with treatment, time, determination, and a commitment to healing.