When I was a fresh Social Worker, respecting client's self determination is one of the commonly misunderstood and misapplied ethical practices. No doubt that Social Workers affirms the right of our clients to make their own decisions, the need to be mindful and knowledgeable on the Code of Ethics is important and it comes into place where Social Worker needs to know when to draw the line.
With the Code of Ethics, it guides us through when we meet with tricky situations and our roles being challenged.
According to the Code of Ethics, "Social workers affirm the right to client self determination which needs to be preceded by ensuring that the client is both aware of and has assessed alternative options. The role of social workers in this instance is to provide all relevant information that would allow the client to make an informed decision." In application to this case scenario, Bala seems not being able to exercise rightful self determination as he is coupled with mental health issues and the irregularity of medicine taking is a concern to his personal well being.
After hearing from his flatmate, Raju, there seems to display a certain level of violence risk between Bala and Raju in times where Bala gets drunk and is mentally unstable. With reference to another Code of Ethics, "Social workers limit the rights to self-determination where in the social worker's professional judgment, clients' actions or potential actions pose a serious, foreseeable and imminent risk to themselves and others." With that, there is evidence to prove that Bala is in need of treatment so that his mental health issue can be managed and a proper assessment can be done to deem his suitability in living in the community.
In this case, the need to protect Raju's identity is necessary. This is because to prevent further conflicts between both of them and also empathizing on Raju's vulnerable situation.
Knowing that Bala would not admit to drinking and does not see the need for IMH intervention, Max would need to seek advice from the Medical team/ Community Health Care Team of IMH to further ascertain on the next step when working with involuntary clients. Since Bala is already known to IMH, the follow up act (Eg, home visit) of bringing him back "into system" can be seen as just providing him with concern and support for a start.
To sum up, Social Workers need to constantly reflect their thoughts and doings in accordance to the Code of Ethics so that timely intervention can be provided to client.