Every good journey needs a compass. And the journey toward living a fulfilled life is no different. Case management provides guidance and support to clients on the path to wellness. Ultimately, the goal of case management is helping clients find their way to a healthy and self-reliant future.
A case manager is a mental health professional who works intimately with clients to help develop personalized treatment plans that will meet the unique needs of an individual on the path toward recovery. To do so, case managers often perform assessments to get a better understanding of a client’s current mental health concerns, personal issues and any psychosocial triggers. With this information, case managers may help clients coordinate with other mental or health care professionals to ensure good overall wellbeing.
Case management involves four primary functions that center on mutual understanding and thoughtful communication. While all case managers’ workloads and responsibilities will differ, there are some mental health case management best practices and tasks that most perform on a routine basis.
First, a mental health case manager gets to know the client. The professional, yet caring, relationship formed shines light on the client’s needs, goals and situation. Case managers develop these relationships by conducting interviews and completing a range of assessments or a simple overview of one’s mental health history.
An important part of a case manager’s assessment of a client will include looking into the day-to-day stressors that are impacting his or her emotional wellbeing. This may include personal relationships, employment status, daily living skills, physical health, education, personal safety and how someone deals with stressors.
After the assessment process, the case manager can develop a personalized roadmap of compassionate care, or, in some cases, plan for crises. A treatment plan may include substance abuse intervention, mental health support, psychotherapy or physical health treatment. The case manager carefully evaluates the client’s progress, ensures adherence to prescribed treatment and helps to facilitate communication between care professionals, the patient and any family involved.
During the development of a treatment plan, a case manager may also introduce the client to a range of resources that can be accessed by the client themselves. This helps with a push toward eventual self-sufficiency and empowerment, showing the client that it is possible to have future success under their own power. Some case managers may offer assistance, such as providing information about local food pantries or housing options, assisting with creating and printing a resume to help obtain employment or walking through the process of scheduling medical or mental health appointments.
A case manager also carefully evaluates the client’s progress and ensures adherence to prescribed treatment. By evaluating the effectiveness of the treatment plan, a case manager can determine if it is working for the client, making adjustments as needed. Rarely is the first stab at a treatment plan a perfect fit, and it often takes some trial and error to figure out the best path to success.
Regular check-ins and follow-ups with clients are the most common ways that case managers evaluate the current status of their clients. This may involve a regular meeting between case manager and client, as well as in-depth discussions of what is working and what may need to change.
Case managers help to facilitate communication between care professionals, the client and any family involved. For many clients, mental health treatment can be complicated and difficult to manage on their own. The coordination services provided by a case manager can spell the difference between success and failure for many clients. Having a single point of contact can significantly simplify a client’s treatment process, allowing them to focus on recovery and a return to positive living, rather than trying to remember appointments, prescriptions and even legal obligations all on their own.
The end goal of any case manager is to lead their clients to self-sufficiency. For some clients, case management is a long-term process, while others only require assistance for a short period. Neither scenario is right or wrong. Over time, case managers aim to put more control into their clients’ hands, giving them the tools to handle their own mental health journeys.
© Davis Behavioral Health.