Social Work in the Public Eye (November 2014)

Marjorie HammockThe NASW South Carolina chapter announced its support for Sen. Vincent Sheheen in South Carolina’s gubernatorial race, according to an article in

NASW member Marjorie Hammock spoke on behalf of the chapter during the announcement, saying that Sheheen supports and respects the social work profession. “As social workers, it’s our job to protect children, families and South Carolina’s most vulnerable citizens,” Hammock says in the article. “For South Carolina to be a place of just, equitable communities we need an honest governor who supports and respects our work. That’s why we back Vincent Sheheen.”

Sheheen said social workers in South Carolina do vital work. He cited his work to lower social worker caseloads and end dysfunction at the state’s Department of Social Services.

Stacy CollinsStacy Collins, NASW senior practice associate, spoke at the NASW-West Virginia fall conference on integrated behavioral health care, and is quoted in an article on Public News Service.

She says in the article that health care providers are starting to realize that the best way to treat behavioral health issues is to integrate treatment into the places where people already receive care. And good preventive care includes dealing with behavioral health issues like depression and anxiety, Collins says.

“It’s behavioral health professionals, clinical social workers and psychologists based in your doctor’s office,” she says. “This is health care looking at your needs holistically.”

A significant number of behavioral health needs go untreated, and Collins says this is a huge driver in health care costs. She adds that behavioral health can’t be separated from physical health care.

“You really can’t disentangle them,” she says. “Approximately 50 to 60 percent of people with a chronic health condition have a correlated behavioral health condition. One exacerbates the other.”

The Affordable Care Act mandates behavioral health insurance coverage. Collins says in the article that the reform law covering behavioral health will improve the access to coverage for millions of people who haven’t had it before.

“There are resources finally being devoted to this in a meaningful way, and with better coverage and better access,” she says in the article. “We really do have an opportunity to intervene early.”

Luis ZayasA Huffington Post blog, co-written by NASW member Luis Zayas, suggests some reading material for congressional leaders in relation to the unaccompanied youth border crisis.

Zayas, a Robert Lee Sutherland Chair in Mental Health and Social Policy and dean of the School of Social Work at The University of Texas at Austin, wrote the blog with help from Amy Thompson, a public policy analyst and social work doctoral student at the university.

They write that “to listen to the solutions proposed by Congress and the executive branch, you’d think this was a situation that no one has encountered before.”

As teachers and experts in child migration, Zayas and Thompson recommend that Republican senators John Cornyn, of Texas, and John McCain, of Arizona, could benefit from reading “Child Migration and Human Rights in a Global Age,” by Jacqueline Bhabha, which includes a chapter on the realities of child trafficking. Both senators introduced legislation that would expedite the removal of refugee children, they say.

For President Obama, they recommend a book by Lauren Heidbrink called “Migrant Youth, Transnational Families, and the State,” which “explores the consequences of not recognizing the unaccompanied child’s autonomy.”

Oscar Martinez’s “The Beast” and John Gibler’s “To Die in Mexico” are their choices for Republican Rep. Michael McCaul, of Texas. Both books speak about the threats migrants face, including rape, kidnapping, and being forced into organized crime.

Lastly, Zayas and Thompson suggest that Congress as a whole should read the report “Children on the Run,” which breaks out by country children’s motivations to leave. “At the very least, they write, “lawmakers should be aware of the push-and-pull forces on child migrants.”

Reginald RichardsonCBS Chicago interviewed NASW member Reginald Richardson as an expert on the dynamics of abusive relationships, which the online article says are complex financially, physically and emotionally.

As an example of this complexity, the article mentions former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, who was caught on video punching his wife, Janay, in the face and knocking her unconscious. The incident occurred earlier this year in an Atlantic City hotel, when Janay was still Rice’s fiancée. The Rice’s have since appeared together, never alluding to the abuse, the article says.

Richardson, a licensed clinical social worker in Illinois, says that the threat for Janay Rice and other abuse victims remains until the abuser gets help.

“If you’re hit once, you’ll be hit twice,” Richardson says. “I think what has to happen is that the batter(er) has to be treated for the anger issues and the things that might be operating in his past ... ”

After a video of Rice’s attack was released to the public, the NFL suspended him indefinitely and changed its policy regarding how it handles domestic violence cases.

The article points out that treatment doesn’t always end the violence, and hotlines can help victims who don’t know where to turn.

Laura StamboniAn Arlington (Mass.) Public News series on adolescence features an interview with NASW member Laura Stamboni, who has a private practice in Lexington, Mass.

Producer Peter Bermudes spoke with Stamboni in the first segment about what determines adolescence. Stamboni says the marker of the chronological age is not enough to be adolescence, but that it’s really the transition after childhood and before adulthood.

“There are physical changes and there are psychological changes that prepare the adolescent to move into adulthood,” she said.

Stamboni says it takes a lot of work for parents who are dealing with adolescent children and the expectations the adults have of them. Reflecting on the way they approach their children and listening to them in a nonjudgmental way can help, she said.

“(Parents) tempering their expectations is one thing that can help children and adolescents so much, because one of the significant stressors is expectations,” Stamboni said.

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