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Psychopathology’s Role in Social Work

 |  3 Min Read

Treating people who have mental health problems is a big part of social work, and job growth for mental health social workers is expected to soar dramatically in the coming years.

In a 10-year span leading up to 2024, job growth for mental health social workers is expected to rise by 19%. That’s far above the 7% growth for all occupations during that same time period, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.1

The job growth for mental health social workers is being fueled by several factors, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. One factor is the increase in the number of people who are voluntarily seeking drug or alcohol treatment. Another is a push by the court system to re-route drug offenders to treatment centers rather than jail. In addition, the nation faces a growing number of aging residents who may be suffering from conditions that require mental health assistance.

The soaring demand for mental health social workers bodes well for a career in social work, and you get an online master’s degree in social work from Our Lady of the Lake University.

What is psychopathology?

The field of psychopathology involves studying mental illness to find the best ways to diagnose and treat it.

There are four main components in diagnosing mental health. One is social dimension, which involves how a person interacts with others. The second is behavioral dimension, which considers an individual’s actions such as how he dresses himself to eat. Thought and emotions are the third and fourth dimensions. People with mental health problems often have trouble regulating their thoughts and emotions.2

In studying psychopathology, students use the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.” This manual includes a large list of categories of mental disorders and criteria needed to evaluate them for a particular category.3 Some of the categories are schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders, bipolar and related disorders, and depressive disorders.4

How psychopathology ties into social work

Courses that delve into psychopathology have become a critical part of social work programs5 because social workers are key players in delivering mental health-related services.

A course in psychopathology can teach social workers how to recognize some of the major mental disorders, and student will also learn about the best practices in social work to treat these disorders.

These and other social work courses are available online through Our Lady of the Lake University’s online master in social work program. With demand for mental health social workers booming, now is a great time to get the degree.


  1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Social Workers Occupational Outlook”
  2., “Mental Health & Psychopathology: Definition & Dimensions,”
  3. National Center for Biotechnology Information, “Understanding Psychopathology”
  4. American Psychiatric Association, “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders”
  5. Oxford University Press, “Psychopathology and Social Work Practice,”

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