In recent years mental health clinics and mental hospitals have been using more and more volunteersnot only because of the shortage of personnel but because of the unique services they can provide. Today’s volunteers not only keep patients occupied and give them extra care, but serve the vital function of keeping them in touch with the world. They also keep the community in touch with the hospital and increase public understanding of mental illness.The development of volunteer programs has been greatly advanced by the National Association for Mental Health. As the Association points out, if a program is to be fully effective, it must be carefully planned and organized by a well-qualified volunteer director who is responsible to the medical staff. His major duties are to survey the requirements of the institution, then recruit and screen volunteers, plan orientation sessions and in-service training, prepare schedules and assignments, and supervise their activities. A recruitment drive for volunteers is usually conducted through local community groups and news media. It has been found that the most successful volunteers have not only warm, outgoing personalities, but special skills, and regard their work as a regular job rather than casual philanthropy Mental health volunteers are considered an effective adjunct to therapy and an integral part of the rehabilitation process. Their activities cover a wide range. They teach crafts, feed withdrawn or handicapped patients, assist the librarian, conduct hobby groups and athletic events, manage the hospital beauty parlor, assist in psychodrama, edit the hospital newspaper, and give clerical assistance to the staff. When patients are preparing for discharge, volunteers may take them on tours of local industry and help them locate a place to live if they have nowhere to go-There are two new trends in volunteer work. Many men are now participating on a regular basis, and are particularly active in sports and occupational therapy, as well as discussion groups on work opportunities. And in a number of hospitals, college students are now serving as volunteers, and high school students may come in for special duties such as decorating the recreation hall. Practical experiences of this type not only give these young people personal insight into the problem of mental health, but help to prepare them for possible work in the field.

Cite this page: N., Sam M.S., "VOLUNTEER WORKERS," in PsychologyDictionary.org, November 28, 2018, https://psychologydictionary.org/volunteer-workers/ (accessed October 5, 2022).


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