Social Services in School: The Complex Issues

The complex issues corresponding to coming-of-age for girls imply the uniqueness of their situations compared to other students. This traumatic experience frequently leads to the emergence of specific conditions, and one of them is a borderline personality disorder. This problem is characterized by mood swings, an uncertain self-image, and the stemming inability of an affected person to make appropriate decisions in their lives. Its influence on people can be clearly seen from the consideration of Susanna, the main character in “Girl, Interrupred,” who narrates about her confinement at a clinic (Mangold, 1999). The film is one of many works reflecting on the struggles of female adolescents related to their mental health, which adversely affect their performance at school and, therefore, should be adequately addressed.

Social Work Practice

The incorporation of the information regarding conditions typical for girls at school into the practice of social work specialists is an essential task for the former’s well-being in the future. It should cover all the vital aspects of their lives at the time as well as be used for the analysis of specific tendencies, which might have a similar result as in the case of Susanna Keyson. The failure to do so will indicate the neglect for the initial reasons of particular deeds and the impossibility to provide assistance for the resolution of existing issues. For example, the main character in the film claims at the beginning that her actions were not an attempt to commit suicide (Mangold, 1999). She explains that she was sad for no particular reason, and this fact led her to substance abuse (Mangold, 1999). This circumstance confirms the above considerations regarding the importance of revealing the nature of problems rather than ignoring patients’ opinions for a better outcome of treatment.


In this case, research is one of the key components allowing to suggest the required interventions. Meanwhile, in the film, it was not conducted in full scope. Instead, the therapist neglects the words of Susanna, who keeps saying that her needs are disregarded (Mangold, 1999). In this situation, the responsibility of a social worker is to examine the circumstances of a girl’s life, including her relationships with relatives and friends. They might thereby establish the source of the issues, decreasing the chances of a person to become a full-fledged member of society in the future. According to Susanna, her protests were related to the unwillingness to be like her mother, but she is told that there is no reason to worry as women have more opportunities these days (Mangold, 1999). Nevertheless, the professional working with the patient did not expand on the topic, and the feeling of being ignored doubled.


The following aspect requiring careful examination is a policy developed by professionals for addressing the needs of girls. It should be oriented on their inclusion and active participation in consideration of their problems, whereas social isolation might have quite the opposite effect. The same applies to Susanna, who did not feel included in the process and was more willing to break the rules rather than cooperate with the specialists (Mangold, 1999). In the living room, Lisa tells her that the only way to survive in the facility is to pretend you work with them because they want to know your secrets (Mangold, 1999). Meanwhile, the communication seems one-sided since the doctors do not share the diagnosis with Susanna once they reveal it, and she joins other girls sneaking out at night to read the files (Mangold, 1999). In brief, the orientation of a proper policy is on ensuring the people’s perceived safety, which implies not only listening but also sharing with them.

Human Behavior and Social Environment

The film under consideration also contains extensive information regarding the interrelation between human behavior and the social environment. For instance, Susanna was not the one to share her real thoughts on any matter with her parents or doctors until she found understanding and support among other patients of the clinic (Mangold, 1999). Moreover, she even refuses to leave the facility with the man who loves her because of her new friends (Mangold, 1999). Throughout the narrative, she opens up to them, and this fact adds to their importance and, therefore, impact on her life and overall perceptions of reality (Mangold, 1999). Susanna’s experience proves that any condition can be improved through the inclusion of the mentioned factors. Hence, one’s behavior can change in a positive way by readjusting the environment, and this conclusion can be used by social workers.

Human Diversity

Another element, which is used by specialists when developing measures suitable for each patient case, is individualization. It is expressed by their emphasis on the people’s personal characteristics, such as their gender, culture, race, ethnicity, and many other factors. In other words, it is impossible to efficiently assist students in their performance worsening due to the presence of mental issues while neglecting their circumstances. As follows from the film, the generalization in considering Susanna’s actions led to the erroneous conclusion of her desire to hurt others, whereas the reason was different (Mangold, 1999). It means that prioritizing one type of data over other facts inevitably leads to the specialists’ inability to provide care for people with their needs. From this point of view, an individualized approach is the most optimal solution to the problem.

Population at Risk

The factors presented above also positively correlate with the definition of a population at risk. The inclusion of students in such groups indicates the success of the initiative to address the existing disparities stemming from the diversity of citizens, varying policies intended to improve their situations, and the environment. Their combination defines further decisions of specialists aimed at assisting them. Thus, the beginning of the friendship of Susanna and Lisa was initially viewed through the lens of their personal circumstances since both were defined as the representatives of vulnerable groups (Mangold, 1999). However, in this case, the direct message of their position transmitted to Susanna during her conversations with the therapists was a faux pas as it resulted in the patient’s anger (Mangold, 1999). This outcome contributes to the necessity to approach the subject with caution so that students did not feel different in a negative sense.

Social and Economic Justice

Instilling the ideals of social and economic justice in social workers is critical for their subsequent focus on the corresponding principles. This task is vital for promoting equality among the students regardless of their conditions and ensuring their confidence in support and safety initiated by schools. The failure to comply with these considerations tends to be a trigger of conflicts among them on the basis of their difference. As in the case of Susanna, who was unwilling to conform to the expectations of other people, the reason for her perceived abnormality was the orientation of the world on social standards (Mangold, 1999). More specifically, she did not resemble other upper-class children in her ideas and the ways to express herself, so that it was easier for them to confirm her illness than abandon their beliefs (Mangold, 1999). This type of injustice is of social nature, but it can also be applied to the economic positions of children at schools.


The mentioned challenge can result from the varying values of people within the community. Hence, when the therapist asked Susanna how she feels about being friends with Lisa, the question directly implied the violation of these provisions (Mangold, 1999). In work, they should be guided by the principles of integrity, worth of each person, and competence instead of following the common stereotypes. As for the ethical part, the mental impairments of students should not be confused with the improper preferences of society, including the privileged position of white men. In the film, this idea is reflected in the non-compliance of the girls with the unjust requirements of the world and the refusal to provide them with the autonomy to make their own decisions. For example, the words of Susanna insisting that she wants to write do not correspond to the place predefined for her by the parents (Mangold, 1999). However, similar conflicts can be prevented if the specialists interfere and assist the girls in their endeavors so that they did not feel aimless.


To summarize, the tasks of social workers require guidance to deal with the cases of female adolescents’ struggles. The film confirms their significance for the essential areas and provides examples justifying each of the aspects of their work. Thus, the practice should be based on sufficient research for developing appropriate policies for educational facilities with respect to the ethics, values, and social and economic justice.


Mangold, J. (1999). Girl, interrupted [Film]. Columbia Pictures, Red Wagon Entertainment.

Cite this paper

Select style


ChalkyPapers. (2022, June 29). Social Services in School: The Complex Issues. Retrieved from


ChalkyPapers. (2022, June 29). Social Services in School: The Complex Issues.

Work Cited

"Social Services in School: The Complex Issues." ChalkyPapers, 29 June 2022,


ChalkyPapers. (2022) 'Social Services in School: The Complex Issues'. 29 June.


ChalkyPapers. 2022. "Social Services in School: The Complex Issues." June 29, 2022.

1. ChalkyPapers. "Social Services in School: The Complex Issues." June 29, 2022.


ChalkyPapers. "Social Services in School: The Complex Issues." June 29, 2022.