When you think of social workers, what exactly comes to mind?
Call it the privilege of hailing from a fairly well-adjusted nuclear family, but I think social workers get a bad rap. Yes, they remove children from dangerous household situations when deemed necessary (for reference, the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies reports that only 23% of their investigations saw situations needing further protection, and only 3% have children moved into foster care/other situations)—but that isn’t the full picture. It’s not even close at all, especially considering that over 60% of social workers in Ontario work in healthcare!
March 6th-12th is Social Work Week, a week recognised annually in March since the Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW) established it back in 1990. Past themes for the Ontario Association of Social Workers’ (OASW) Social Work Week include things like “Mobilizing Strengths in Individuals and Communities” (2015) and “Social Workers Help Turn Issues into Answers” (2016). This year’s theme—”Social Workers: Real Expertise. Real Life. Real Impact.”—really helped drive my thinking on the profession home once I’d done a little research.
Look at it like this—the world’s a messed-up place. There’re all sorts of problems on every inch of the globe, and though we might want to help, it can all be so overwhelming. We never seem to have enough time, money or resources to tackle it all, but left unchecked, these problems rarely improve—they get worse and worsen many things around them.
So wouldn’t it be nice if there were someone who could invest in others to help them deal with these problems? Who could help others surpass their issues and ultimately improve communities while doing so?
Enter the social worker.
Social Workers Do So Much More Than You Imagine!
You see, there’re tons of things social workers do that no one seems to know about, like:
- study changing societal impacts on both individuals and groups to better combat the systemic barriers faced by marginalised communities
- use their access to resources, funding and agencies to empower clients to overcome societal barriers and reach their individual goals
- are available at schools, hospitals and correctional centres to assist those within with everything from rehabilitation to mental health to behavioural well-being and more
- ardently address social justice issues through an anti-oppression and anti-racism framework to provide access to opportunities, benefits and services for all
All this in mind, it’s no wonder the OASW’s approximately 5,200 members strong—with all the hurt in the world, it’s a profession designed for those who want to help… it’s just time for everyone else to know that, too.
Throughout Social Work Week, the OASW’s featured posts on various issues that’re relevant to today, like addictions/mental health, bullying and relationship problems. We’ve a long way to go before solving all the ills of the world, but it’s good to know that there’re those who can help us out whenever the going seem to get tough—we just need to be willing to give them a chance!
Social Work Week — Reminding You There’s Help Out There When You Need It!
So the next time you lose faith in the world—the next time you find yourself asking what you can do to make things better or wonder why it seems like nobody’s doing anything to improve things—please remember those out there who do it for a living. When society forgets the disenfranchised; when life just doesn’t seem to cut some people any slack, it’s good to know that some of us look to make the best of even the worst situations, and may we remember the impact of our social workers in good and bad times alike!
Happy Social Work Week, everyone—I hope you learned something new!
Until the next,
Disclaimer: The Ontario Association of Social Workers compensated me to spread word about Social Work Week. I definitely learned a lot about the profession while writing this, though!