Happy National Social Work Month!
Social Work Month in March is a time to celebrate the great profession of social work. The theme for Social Work Month 2021 is Social Workers Are Essential. Social workers are essential to community well-being.
The Social Work Month campaign will inform the public, policymakers, and legislators about the way the nation’s social workers each day meet people where they are and help them live to their fullest potential.
Social work is one of the fastest growing professions in the United States, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). There are currently about 700,000 professional social workers in our nation, but that number is expected to rise to more than 800,000 by 2029, BLS said.
Social work has been around for more than a century and has made significant contributions to our nation. For example, social workers such as social reformer Jane Addams, former Labor Secretary Frances Perkins, and civil rights leaders Dorothy Height, Whitney Young and Ida B. Wells have helped Americans secure voting rights, equal rights, Social Security, unemployment insurance, and other programs.
You will also find social workers throughout society – protecting children from abuse and neglect, providing mental health and substance use disorder treatment, assisting active duty military, veterans and their families, in schools, helping corporations better serve their communities, and in community organizations as well as in local, state and government.
During the Coronavirus pandemic social workers have also been on the frontlines along with doctors, nurses, grocery store staff and other essential employees. For instance, social workers such as Rosanelly Garcia, a trauma social worker in the emergency room at Mount Sinai Hospital in Chicago, are helping people hospitalized because of the Coronavirus get the best quality care and the services they need to recover once they return to their families and communities.
Other social workers such as Carla Monteiro in Massachusetts are helping people cope with mental illness and substance use disorders during the pandemic, often doing this job remotely to keep everyone safer.
However, the social work profession faces challenges. There is shortage of social workers in schools where they are needed to help young people cope with complicated issues such as trauma, poverty, the opioid addiction crises and the need for more resources to help students learn during the pandemic.
And although social workers play a critical role in our nation’s health care and mental health system, they could be better compensated for the work they do, according to a 2019 report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.
Social workers often are unsung heroes, but they play an essential role in helping people from all walks of life and backgrounds to live life to the fullest. During social work month we hope you will learn more about this amazing profession, say a kind word to the social workers in your lives, and advocate for policies and legislation that benefit the profession and the populations they serve.