Each day, more than 700,000 social workers nationwide make life better for others. They empower people with the skills and encouragement they need to overcome life’s challenges.
They also link clients to resources they may need to live more fulfilled lives.
Social workers are everywhere. They work in schools, helping children get the services they need to get the best possible education. They are in mental health centers and private practices, helping people overcome mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety and substance use disorders.
They protect children from neglect and abuse and help form new families through adoption. Social workers are in hospitals, helping patients get the best possible care not only while in treatment, but when they return to their families and communities. Moreover, they help those cope with the loss of loved ones.
Social workers also play a vital role in community organizations and local, state and federal governments.
They provide data to create programs and policies to help make our society a better and more equitable place for all. This year’s theme for Social Work Month is “Social Workers are Essential.” Social workers are unsung heroes woven into the fabric of our society. As our nation recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, economic uncertainty and racial unrest, social workers are needed more than ever.
These include social workers at Christian (soon to be Citrus) Counseling Services like Alicia Layedra, Beth Snow and Nicole Bryant.
Alicia works with at risk children and their families to develop the skills needed to be a nurturing parent.
Beth assists victims cope with the trauma inflicted by violent crimes.
Nicole works with veterans and their families to deal with trauma, loss and sacrifices unique to military families.
The fact that social workers are essential is reflected in data from Bureau of Labor Statistics, which lists social work as one of the fastest growing professions in the United States. Due to increased demand for the services social workers provide – for instance, our nation’s population is aging and more social workers will be needed to care for them — the number of U.S. social workers is expected to rise to more than 800,000 in 2029, up 13% from 2019.
Yet, social workers need support from our nation. They deserve higher salaries and more programs that would make it easier for people to enter and work in the field, such as debt forgiveness programs.
There is legislation in Congress — the Improving Access for Mental Health Act — that would help raise Medicare reimbursement rates for social workers who account for one of the largest groups of mental health service providers in our nation. Another bill, the Social Work Reinvestment Act, would tackle high caseloads, low salaries, student loan debt, and other challenges the social work profession is facing.
I urge you to learn more about the essential work social workers provide and what you can do to help people in this profession do their positive, life-changing work.
Roger Uminski II Is CEO of the Christian Counseling Service, soon to be known as the Citrus Counseling Service.