The National Association of Social Workers has named March as Social Work Month, giving us all a chance to recognize and applaud the services of social work professionals.
Given how broad the term “social work” is, we thought this would be a good time to learn more about the role some social workers play here at SHS.
“It’s such a broad field,” said Kortney Carr, Director of Children’s Services at SHS. “That’s both a blessing and a curse.”
The “blessing” is the wide range of opportunity areas for social work: healthcare, mental health, government, military, schools, universities, social service agencies, community organizations. The “curse” is in that same broad variety of services, making it hard to quickly define the field of social work.
“We’re helpers,” Kortney said. “We’re focused on decreasing symptoms that are causing impairments for our patients. We work directly with clients to help them access the services they need.”
What are those services? It could be therapy and healthcare, housing and transportation resources, training and education. Social workers help people who are experiencing illnesses or mental health crises; suffering abuse, neglect or trauma; or facing poverty and other roadblocks to daily living. Social workers’ services are covered by insurance, Medicaid and state and county programs.
Josette Mitchell, Director of Adult Community Services, notes that a big part of the job is advocacy. That can mean making sure the policies and procedures meet the needs of the clients, including weighing in on state and federal programs and providing feedback to legislators and policy makers.
Other times, advocacy can mean going to bat for a specific client – perhaps seeking appropriate medication or helping gain access to needed services. It can involve teaching, coaching and consultations, to help clients build their own toolbox of skills and resources, added Kortney.
Social workers obtain extensive education and training, Josette notes. They are licensed by the state and credentialed by the National Association of Social Workers Credentialing Center. Social workers are required to participate in 30 hours of continuing education every two years to maintain credentials in Missouri.
There are about 50 social workers at SHS and more than 650,000 across the U.S. By standing up for the vulnerable, social workers play an important role in creating healthy communities.
“Every day, we’ll drop everything to do whatever needs to be done,” Kortney said. “We’re here to help. We’re helpers.”
In this month for recognition of social work, we invite you to join us in applauding, appreciating and thanking social workers. At SHS, our professional social workers support clients in behavioral health, pediatrics, OB/GYN, outreach, homeless outreach, residential services and Imani House departments.