Responding to Legal Issues in Mental Health Essay

Case Scenario: An 18 year old female named Simone is a new mother who does not know who the father of her child is. She is a high school dropout and receives government assistance. She has received a grant by her social worker to attend counseling for awhile. She has no family to depend on due to her parents being alcoholics and suffering from mental illness. Simone was labeled in school as having learning disabilities and a low I. Q. She is anxious and admits to smoking and selling marijuana only when the child is asleep.

She is resistant when offered other ways to relax and she says that her drug use is only temporary at 3 times per week so far. Ethical Decision Making Model of Use: Remley presents a combined ethical decision making model within the text that is a combination of many other models. This model consists of eight concepts to ethical decision making (Remley, 2009). The first step is to identify and define the problem. – Simone is a young mother with no employment that receives assistance from the government. She has some mental issues with no family involvement to assist her and she does not plan on going back to school due to her low I.

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Q. She also has a substance abuse problem with the marijuana but may not be ready for help with this problem. The second step is: Tune in to your own feelings. – As a counselor, I feel an overwhelming sense of responsibility to help this client in as many ways as possible. I feel an enormous amount of devotion to the baby because he/she has no one else who can speak for him/her or to help other than the mother if I do not step in. As a counselor I have a duty to protect all clients involved, especially the children. This is my ethical duty. The third step is: Consult with colleagues, lawyers or experts.

Sometimes decisions made in isolation are not as correct as those made with some advice from other colleagues in your field of work. – There are issues with her substance abuse problem, the baby being neglected because of the substance abuse of the parent and illegal activities. As a counselor, I have a duty to report these issues to child protective services while also obtaining help for this client because she also has mental issues and needs some type of support system due to her having no family available. The fourth step is: Involve your client within the decision-making process. Simone could be asked what ways she may need the help the most. She could be involved with family services. I would also inform her that Child Protective Services of Alabama (http://www. dhr. alabma. gov/childprotectiveservices) would have to access her situation at home with the baby since she has confided in me about the marijuana use and also offer her parenting classes and substance abuse counseling through an organization called NAMI ALABAMA.

This organization helps those with mental illness receive substance abuse counseling (http://www. namialabama. rg). These would all be offers to her not demands so that she could feel empowered and active in her own treatment. I could also offer her services to help with her learning disability. The fifth step would be to Identify desired outcomes. – I would have Simone to make goals based on what she wants out of life. Even though she seems unmotivated, she should be offered choices. Maybe once she sees that she is not alone and has support, she can focus on helping herself and not feeling hopeless. She will feel like she is making choices in her own treatment.

An organization here in Alabama named The Arc of Alabama(http://www. thearcofalabama. com) gives clients I. Q. tests and services are rendered to those who score below 70 on the test. Also a psychological exam is given. If Simone qualifies she can receive parenting help, housing and job training. She can also get help earning her G. E. D. Simone can become a self advocate once it is proven that she is disabled. A self-advocate is a person with a disability who speaks for themselves on their wants, desires, and choices in life.

There are organized chapters of self-advocates that you can join to have a stronger voice in making your wishes and desires known and for society to be responsive to your needs and opinions. The desired outcome would be to get her substance abuse help, have to take parenting classes to become a better parent, get her help with her disability so that she can feel productive in society by helping her obtain a G. E. D. , help her gain supplemental income to assist with the care of the baby. She could also receive child care while she is going to counseling and education classes provided by Child Protective Services of Alabama.

She could also apply for SSI or supplemental income for those who are disabled. Step six: Consider possible actions. – As a counselor I have to contact child protective services. I also have to act on her behalf and offer all the help this state can give her as my client. She should also be referred to a psychiatrist for further evaluation to make sure she is competent to take care of her child. Classes for parenting are an option to help her cope. Counseling sessions are needed so that she can deal with the abuse and then she can see why it is important for her to make a better life for her child.

Also birth control or family planning should be also offered as an option to keep her from having anymore children. Step seven: Choose and act on your choice. All the actions mentioned above are to acted upon and carried out in a timely manner. Legal and Ethical Issues within this scenario: According to the Child Abuse Laws for the state of Alabama: Code Section 26-14-1 states that “any harm or threatened harm to a child’s welfare through non-accidental physical or mental injury or sexual abuse/exploitations or neglect of any kind is to be reported by any and all professionals or officials”(http://wwwmh. labama. gov/childlaws). If a professional of any kind refuses to make a report, a fine of $500 and/or six months in jail and a misdemeanor will be subjected. As a counselor, I have a duty to act and make a report to child protective services due to her substance abuse around the baby. According to the Code of Ethics for counselors I have a duty to the baby and the client to make sure that all services possible are rendered or at least offered to them(ACA Code of Ethics, 2005). Due to the situation with Simone’s family background, she has not had much guidance or instruction on becoming a parent.

Some people are just not parent material but I believe that Simone has a chance to redeem herself and change her life if she knows that someone cares about her and is given the help and opportunity. I do realize that I have to report her to child protective services but not to punish her but to protect her and the baby, as this is part of the services that child protective services provides. Morally, I do feel that as a mother, you do not object your kids to dangerous situations or neglect them in anyway.

I have good Christian values and was raised in a good home with love and support all around. I had friends that went to school with me who did not have such a great life, so I personally saw their suffering. Many went off and got with the wrong crowd or got into drugs and into trouble. Two specific values that I hold are honesty and patience. I believe that people can change if they want change with help. I believe that if God is patient with us when we do wrong, then who are we to judge anyone else?

One way to be able to have that influence on clients is to show them my devotion and patience through my smile and attitude. I have to let them know that I understand what it is to struggle as a mother. I honestly do know that struggle. My honesty and patience can really be beneficial to Simone and clients just like her facing problems in life. Also being culturally competent allows counselors to understand the things that go on in certain lifestyles and be able to incorporate ways in order to improve these situations if possible within my scope of practice.

For example, if I know that a client has a certain issue and I know that within their culture they may have different beliefs than I may have, I can’t make inappropriate comments or seem overbearing with my own beliefs or opinions. I can offer suggestions based on my knowledge and beliefs and respect what the client believes or holds important. As a counselor, I will encounter many obstacles such as these in the future, but it’s not always the problem but how you handle it that makes all the difference.

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