Date of Paper


Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)


Social Work

First Advisor

Richa Dhanju


Social Work


Changes to the healthcare system such as a decrease in resources, combined roles of emergency department personnel, and delivery of mental health treatment in emergency departments has necessitated further investigation of the role of social workers in the emergency department. Using a qualitative research design, eight participants from rural emergency departments were surveyed regarding how they perceived mental health emergencies and mental health crises within the emergency department, and their perceptions of the social work role. Findings of this study suggest that a social worker is a valuable addition to the interdisciplinary team in the emergency department. Additionally it indicated that mental health interventions and services remain stigmatized, caring for mental health patients impacts the care of other patients, the emergency department has become a point of entry for many resources, there is a lack of training in mental health services, and a lack of understanding in the specific skill set and role of social work. These findings support the importance for social work presence in the emergency department as well as the need for future research in various areas related to social work and mental health within hospital emergency departments.

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