County Caseworker (MH/MR) Video Transcript



Narrator:  Some participants in this video assumed the role of consumers.






County Employers


Narrator: County Caseworkers are employed by various county offices throughout the state. They work in county Children and Youth Agencies and Mental Health and Mental Retardation offices. There are a very limited number of positions in other offices such as local government Housing Authorities.


County Caseworkers manage different types of cases based on the job specialization.




Narrator: County Mental Health and Mental Retardation agencies provide various services in the community for persons with mental disabilities, individuals experiencing emotional crises, and children with special needs or developmental disabilities.



Through case management and crisis intervention, county caseworkers provide intake, assessment, and coordination of services. Some of these services include outpatient psychotherapy, short-term inpatient, partial hospitalization, early intervention, residential programs for individuals with mental retardation or mental illness, vocational and social rehabilitation, and 24-hour emergency response.



Caseworker Serge: Crisis intervention. How may I help you?




Caseworker Serge: It sounds like youíre really upset. Can you tell me whatís going on that makes you want to hurt yourself?




Caseworker Serge: Okay




Caseworker Serge: Do you have a plan?





Narrator: What does it take to be an effective County Caseworker?


Supervisor Larry: When filling caseworker positions in Mental Health, we often find that candidates have the desire to work with individuals with mental illness, but they donít yet understand the varied job duties within the agency and the amount of paperwork that is a vital part of the job.



Supervisor Larry: Individuals with mental illness suffer many injustices in their lives.  Therefore, caseworkers need to be strong advocates and very knowledgeable about community resources, such as food and clothing banks, how to apply for social security, where to get prescriptions filled, and how to locate safe, affordable housing.



Supervisor Larry: When filling caseworker positions, the characteristics we look for from our top performing caseworkers include the ability to make sound decisions and handle stressful situations.  Also, verbal and written communication, observational, organizational, and interpersonal skills are critical.  Additionally, knowing how to work with people from different races, religions, ethnic groups and social backgrounds is very important.



Supervisor Al: In Mental Retardation, itís critical that prospective caseworkers possess excellent interpersonal skills that enable them to be comfortable interacting with individuals of vastly varying abilities, from those individuals who are non-verbal to those who are able to work in competitive employment.



Narrator: Upon employment as a professional staff member, Mental Retardation Caseworkers must continue their education by participating in in-house training by shadowing seasoned staff and attending county-sponsored trainings.


Caseworker Earl: Jodie, Tameka is here. You can bring her back Ė remember to have her sign all the forms, give her the intake packet, along with the ARK brochure on advocacy.


Caseworker Jodie: Okay



Caseworker Jodie: During my on-the-job training, I sat in on intake interviews with experienced caseworkers to gather information from our consumers to determine what services were needed in order to develop support plans.



Supervisor Larry: In Mental Health, caseworkers begin their job duties by learning the services that are provided by the agency, the necessary forms and documentation that are required, as well as learning the community resources.



Caseworker Carmen: My training consisted of shadowing a seasoned caseworker, which was most helpful to me.  It gave me the opportunity to learn my way around the office and the community. My supervisor met with me periodically to help me understand the agency and my job duties.



Narrator: Mental Health and Mental Retardation County Caseworkers are primarily responsible for conducting assessments and/or investigations, developing service plans, coordinating, monitoring, and evaluating service delivery, and providing crisis intervention.



Supervisor Larry: In the Office of Mental Health, we have three different types of case management. They are: administrative, resource coordination, and intensive case management.



Supervisor Larry: Each administrative caseworker provides services to approximately 150-200 consumers who are able to function somewhat independently, but who may need assistance getting connected with needed services.  Administrative caseworkers spend most of their time in the office.



Both resource coordination and intensive caseworkers spend the majority of their day out of the office. They work closely with persons who have a serious mental illness and need a lot of support in order to meet their mental health and daily living needs.  Caseloads are lower for these levels of case management and range between 20 and 45. Caseworkers take consumers to doctor appointments, grocery shopping, and other activities in an effort to improve their quality of life.



Caseworker Jen: As a resource coordinator, I work closely with my consumers to ensure that they get to important appointments, and Iím usually the one to transport them. At times, I need to encourage my consumers to get out of bed because they are too depressed to get up.  Other times, I spend time helping my consumers feel comfortable enough to leave their homes because they are hearing voices that are scary and confusing to them.



Caseworker Jen: Did you remember you have an appointment with Dr. Kegel this morning?


Consumer: Yes


Caseworker Jen: Are you still interested in going?


Consumer: No, I donít feel like it.


Caseworker Jen: Okay, well then, can I come in and we can talk about it?


Consumer: Yes


Caseworker Jen:  Okay



Caseworker Jen: My job also requires me to keep accurate, concise, and current case notes about my interactions and other documentation that is required by my agency.  The paperwork can be time consuming.  My written documentation is as important as my direct contact with my consumers.  A few times I have been subpoenaed to testify at hearings, and my consumersí records were available for all to read.



Caseworker Syngred: As a Mental Health Crisis Intervention Caseworker, I receive phone calls from people who just need someone to talk to because they are feeling overwhelmed or depressed.



Caseworker Syngred: I also get calls from people who want to hurt themselves.  When consumers call who are contemplating suicide, I talk with them to find out what their stressors are and to assess for the risk of suicide, and how I can best help them.



Caseworker Syngred: Much of my time is also spent meeting with people in the community.  I travel to individualís homes, places of employment, and local hospitals to assess individualís mental health needs.



Caseworker Syngred: My job is very fast-paced, and it requires me to have good interpersonal skills, knowledge of the Mental Health Procedures Act, and good working relationships with police departments, service providers and other community agencies.  I have knowledge of community resources, because I frequently assist people who contact me to get connected to services that they need.



Caseworker Kelly: As a Mental Retardation support coordinator, I spend as much time in the field with my clients as I do in the office, and when I am in the office, I spend about half of that time in meetings and the other half on the computer completing paperwork. Iíve had to master several different computer programs which I use on a daily basis.



Caseworker Kelly: As part of the community unit, I spend a lot of my time on the phone assisting individuals in locating needed resources. Iíve found that coordinating and writing the annual plans and completing case notes can be time-consuming. Although I do a lot of paperwork, my favorite aspect of the job is spending time with individuals. I love to go out to visit them at the day programs or the individualsí homes. Itís amazing the relationships you develop.



Narrator: Work conditions vary based on the employer and the job specialization.


Caseworker Syngred: As a Mental Health Crisis Intervention Caseworker, I donít have an ongoing caseload. I handle emergency psychiatric situations for the entire county.



Caseworker Syngred: We got a phone call from Miss Kennyís family letting us know that sheís not doing too well. She has a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia and apparently stopped taking her medication, so right now she is delusional and has barricaded herself in her house.


Female officer: Do you have any idea if she has any weapons?


Caseworker Syngred: Her daughter said no, that she has nothing in her house, no weapons.


Female officer: Okay, is there a history of violence?



Caseworker Syngred: Since I may work a variety of shifts, and I often donít know the person to whom I am responding, I can be accompanied by police officers to the personís home. It is important for me to be safe so that I can do my job and ensure the safety of the person who is in crisis.



Caseworker Syngred: I carry a cell phone with me whenever I leave the office.  I might be meeting with someone in his home who stopped taking medication or is threatening to kill himself. At the same time, I may get a call to go directly to a local hospital to meet with someone who overdosed. My job requires me to be flexible and think quickly about various situations. I need to be a very patient listener and provide a lot of support to someone who is upset.



Caseworker Syngred: At all times I observe strict confidentiality regarding consumer information. At the end of my shift, I have to document all contacts and make sure the correct paperwork is available for the next shift. If I do run into a situation Iím unsure of, I can always reach a supervisor even at 12:30 in the morning.



Caseworker Jen: As a mental health caseworker, I carry a caseload of consumers with varied illnesses and needs. I do thoroughly enjoy establishing a relationship with each and every one of my consumers and find much satisfaction when I see them progress in their recovery.



Caseworker Jen: My regular shift is 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., however, I need to be flexible with my work schedule and be prepared to sometimes work a longer day. I may need to schedule appointments outside of my normal working hours and there may be emergency situations that require my involvement.



Caseworker Kelly: As a caseworker in the Office of Mental Retardation, we work daytime, weekday hours, but occasionally, we have to be flexible for evening appointments.



Narrator: As with any job, there are challenges and rewards to being a county caseworker.


Caseworker Sherrie: As a caseworker who has worked for both Mental Health and Mental Retardation, one of the greatest frustrations for me has been that I havenít been able to do more for my consumers. It has also been a challenge educating our families and clients about the resources and services available to them in the community.



Mother: Iím going to go to my training now and Bob is going to stay with you. Okay?



Mother: You be good.



Caseworker Sherrie: Some of the greatest rewards have been providing the necessary support to children with mental retardation so that families can continue to take care of them in their own homes. Also, watching a consumerís mental health improve as he or she progresses with medications, treatment services and support. Another reward for me has been helping consumers to improve their quality of life by supporting them in finding a job and receiving a paycheck or assisting them in finding a suitable place to live.



Narrator: We hope the information in this job preview will help you make an informed decision about whether a county caseworker job is right for you. With this understanding, you should ask yourself these questions and decide if you are suited for the job:


Will I find job satisfaction as a county caseworker?


Am I the type of person who can be an effective county caseworker and handle the demands of serving people with special needs?





Narrator: The State Civil Service Commission thanks those who have made this production a success.



The Script Development Team


Management, Supervisors and Caseworkers from:


Dauphin County Mental Health Crisis Intervention


Lancaster County Mental Health and Mental Retardation


Mental Health and Mental Retardation Consumers and Advocates


Harrisburg Bureau of Police Officers


Apartment/Home Owners


Facility Representatives:


Goodwill Industries - Lancaster

Harrisburg Bureau of Police

Pinnacle Health Harrisburg Hospital

Weis Market Ė Kendig Square, Willow Valley


A production of

The Pennsylvania State Civil Service Commission


commonwealth media services


@ 2005 The Pennsylvania State Civil Service Commission




















Content Last Modified on 2/15/2008 2:34:19 PM