Why are Social Workers Considered Essential to Society?
By: Rosemarie Tamunday Casanova — RN, BSN, MHA
“Social Workers Are Essential”. Yes they are and that is perhaps the first thing you will see when you visit the official page of the National Association of Social Workers. Because of the many great things social workers do for society; their immense and many times selfless acts of service to the people, a month has been set apart to recognize, acknowledge and celebrate this category of professionals. That month is March and it is indeed here again.
March is National Social Workers' Month
It’s the Social Work Month for the year 2021. The National Association of social workers has implored everyone to take out time this month to study and appreciate the professionals in this field. Tools and platforms have also been made available to help people create awareness and spread the consciousness of their services.
The History of National Social Work Month
In 1963, the National Association of Social Workers introduced the national social work month. During this inception period, the association’s aim was to garner public support and to create fresh interest in the work they do. This campaign was successful.
The association got a feedback from the populace. More than 35,000 letters were received in support of the campaign. But it wasn’t until 21 years later that the government of the United States officially declared and recognized March as National social work month. And after a deliberation at the senate level, President Ronald Reagan finally put pen to paper and signed the act.
Over the years, the association has run with many interesting themes, most times inspired by and reflecting the challenges of the times. Here are some of the interesting years and their themes:
National Social Work Month historic themes:
- Listen to the children, 1984
- Work is a family affair, 1985
- Aging parents, return the gift of caring
- Children in poverty, 1987
- AIDS-We need to know. We need to care, 1988
- Strengthening America’s families, 1990
- Vital signs of a healthy nation, 1991
- Global family ties, 1992
- National health care: vital signs of a healthy nation, 1993
- Stop the violence with justice for all, 1994
- Hate crimes, Not in my life, 1996
- Racial and ethnic harmony: respect, understanding, cooperation and peace, 1997
- Centenary celebration of social work, 1998
- The business of social work, helping people help themselves, 1999
- The new face of social work, 2001
- The power of social work: community, needs, human connections, 2002
- Social work-purpose and possibility, 2009
- Social workers change futures, 2011
What do social workers really do?
The job description of social work is rather multifaceted. Underneath this umbrella covering, social work can involve working with children and families, schools , healthcare and substance abuse cases. As general description of all these aspects, social workers basically identify the needs of people and communities.
Some of their roles can be itemized as follows:
- They help provide psychiatric services to people with mental health challenges.
- Social workers help maintain records and case files of individuals involved in certain legal matters such as child abuse.
- They provide analytic guidance in determining the needs and support of clients as well as assessing the situation in which such needs will be required.
- They follow up clients, monitor their progress and ensure that there is an improvement in their situation.
- They help with adjustment programs for clients who have been challenged either by illness, unemployment or even cases like divorce and child adoption programs.
- When you think welfare programs like food stamps and child care programs, think social workers. They do the necessary research and advocacy for such programs.
Theme and Idea behind this year's social workers' month
As mentioned earlier, the theme for this year’s commemoration will be "Social Workers Are Essential". Currently, there are over 700,000 social workers in the United States of America. It is also said to be one of the fastest growing professions in the country.
More people are needed in social works now more than ever before as the corona virus pandemic continues to stretch the society and issues bordering on racism are revisited continuously. Such crises have their economic effects and by extension, personal effects on people’s income, health and relationships.
This is where social workers come in; to help provide a buffer at the frontlines. They help people process and cope with these challenges. Since the service is interdisciplinary, social workers will continue to relate with other professionals in fields that cut across schools, mental institutions, hospitals, non-governmental organizations and the military, across states and countries to provide help and support.
This year, a lot of activities have been mapped out by the National Association of Social Workers in the United States. The campaign activities will involve the following programs:
- Training on Media; experts will weigh in on how social workers can harness the power of the media to let people understand how essential the services provided by social workers are. The training will be interactive and will be carried out as follows --
- Drafts of press release and letters to Editors to help create awareness via their respective media platforms about social work month.
- There will be a radio tour by the chief executive officer of the National Association of Social Workers, President Mit Joyner.
- Provision of logos that individuals can use to create awareness on their various social media platforms.
Where do you come into all of these?
If not you, then someone that you know may likely have come across a social worker at some point in their lives and the services they provided would have helped that person through a difficult situation. Because of this, we should all be participants in the commemoration of this year's National Social Workers' Month.
Here is how you can play a part:
Talk about social workers on your social media platforms
If you know any of them personally, extend some words of gratitude. Also, the official website of the association has made available a social media tool kit from which you can pick what best suit your means of expression.
Put a call across to or text any social worker you know
During the heat of the pandemic, the idea of giving standing ovations to frontline healthcare providers spread like wildfire. It was fun, interesting and indeed motivating to healthcare providers. Think of something in that vein that you can do for social workers this period.
Donate to the cause
There are many organizations out there that support the work done by social workers. Donations for the cause are encouraged. These organizations provide the necessary financial backing essentially needed to carry out many of the activities and projects that social workers execute.
These donations can be done through the National social work association, Society for social work leadership or the social work disaster assistance fund.
Sign up to become a social worker
Truly, the aim of this profession is not for pecuniary gains but to make long lasting impacts and changes in society and individuals. So if you think this is one sphere you have a passion for, then find out all it requires to be a social worker and get signed up. The fact is that social workers are stretched thin and indeed more hands are needed. This will do the program a whole lot of good.
Let us make it a culture to always appreciate and celebrate those who put in their time, resources and sometimes their lives on the line to make our societies and our lives better. Starting from this month, we should all make it our duty to celebrate social workers and create awareness of the many things they do. Let us appreciate them because indeed, “Social Workers are Essential”.