Social Work in the Public Eye (November 2016)

David Bingaman

Men are socialized to be manly and tough, and take the pain, said NASW member David Bingaman, a licensed clinical social worker in Rock Falls, Ill.

“We don’t go to the doctor unless we’re bleeding to death, or our wives or girlfriends make an appointment,” he said in a story published on

Bingaman wants to change that trend by launching a men’s only group. It is hoped such a group will help participants identify physical and psychological problems early on, when they’re most easily treated and have the greatest opportunity for improvement.

The meeting will be like a psycho-educational program, he told the newspaper.

“I think the younger guys can learn from the older guys, if nothing else, what not to do, so they don’t repeat bad behavior by not taking advantage of preventive measures and screening tests,” Bingaman was quoted saying.

There will be eight sessions, topics of which will include things you might expect: the benefits of diet and exercise, depression and suicide in men, and alcohol and substance abuse, the story noted.

Sky Westerlund, executive director of the NASW Kansas Chapter, was quoted in the Topeka Capital-Journal in a story about KanCare, the name of the Medicaid system Gov. Sam Brownback adopted in 2013, which is operated through contracts with three insurance companies.

Westerlund said KanCare is “fractured and is creating crisis at the street level” across the state.

Budget cuts that result in job losses among mental health clinicians exacerbate challenges of families struggling to find clinical assistance for children, Westerlund says in the story. A facility might schedule an initial assessment of a child one or two months in the future, she said, but the needs of that child go unaddressed and likely become worse.

It may take an individual social worker in private practice up to six months to complete the application process to become a provider of services from each of the Managed Care Organizations driving KanCare, she said.

“Once a provider, though, the frustration expands,” Westerlund says in the article. “Claims for services are denied. Every time there is a denial of a claim, these small business owners are forced to battle with the (Managed Care Organization) just to get paid. This is a KanCare practice that threatens the willingness and capacity of these providers to continue accepting Medicaid clients.”

Amber Burkhardt-Sidebottom

Amber Burkhardt-Sidebottom is a licensed clinical social worker who owns Bridgewater Support Services in Manchester, Mich. With the help of her horses, she offers services in mental health and personal growth. The NASW member grew up with horses and was also an equestrian, according to a story published by WXYZ-TV in Detroit.

“At some point, I started to realize what I had learned from the horses and what a great opportunity that was as a kid ... even as an adult. They still teach me things every day,” Burkhardt-Sidebottom is quoted as saying.

The story notes she uses horses to help children and adults struggling with life’s challenges. Her clients range in age from 5 to people in their 20s.

She said horses pay attention to their environment, they’re intuitive, and that can help open doors.

“I think it’s a less threatening way to look at ourselves,” she told the news station.

Joanne Goldblum

The average family can spend between $30 and $80 on diapers in a month, putting them beyond the price point of families who are already struggling to pay for food and other necessities, according to an article posted on

The story quotes NASW member Joanne Goldblum, author of a Yale study exploring the impact of families’ lack of access to diapers. She found a correlation between diaper needs and mental health needs.

“Moms who described significant diaper need were at higher risk of having a stress- or mental health-related issue than even those moms who described having food need,” Goldblum is quoted saying.

Another recent article about Goldblum published in the Hartford Courant notes that she started a diaper bank for New Haven, Conn., in 2004. In 2011, she and other diaper banks around the country formed the New Haven-based Diaper Bank Network, with Goldblum serving as CEO.

Its membership has since grown to 320 banks in 46 states, as well as the District of Columbia and Guam, the article says.