Social Work in the Public Eye (January 2014)

William MeyerThe Associated Press interviewed NASW member William Meyer for an article about postpartum depression as it relates to 34-year-old Miriam Carey, a Connecticut resident who was shot and killed by police after she tried to drive through White House barricades and led them on a car chase around Capitol Hill in October.

Carey’s 1-year-old child remained in the backseat of the car the entire time, but survived the incident. Many sources claim that postpartum depression could have caused Carey’s erratic behavior, but the AP article says experts urge caution in assuming this and worry it could discourage women from seeking help with problems they experience after childbirth.

The article says Carey had delusions that the president was communicating with her, and that she had been hospitalized for postpartum depression in the past. However, having delusions is not a symptom of postpartum depression, the article says, and women suffering from it usually do not hurt others or become aggressive.

“Women who suffer from depression do not, except in really extreme, exceptional cases, ever hurt their babies, ever put their babies in harm’s way,” Meyer says in the article, adding that postpartum depression does not usually last for a year.

In contrast to postpartum depression, postpartum psychosis can come with hallucinations, paranoia, confused thinking and desires to hurt the child, the article says, but according to a 2011 review published in the Journal of Women’s Health, postpartum psychosis is an emergency that usually occurs within a few weeks of delivery.

“Women need not go into secrecy if they’re struggling, Meyer says.

Chad LassiterNASW member Chad Lassiter was interviewed for a commentary about racial stereotypes that appeared in the Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel. Lassiter, a Philadelphia social worker, race-relations expert and co-founder and president of the group Black Men at Penn School of Social Work, is quoted in the article as saying that today, blackness is evolving and is no longer bound by antiquated definitions.

It’s “something common and unremarkable and perfectly ordinary, without the sense of being taboo or secret or even alien to American democracy itself. It is about full humanity.”

Preceding Lassiter’s comments, the commentary focused on a HuffPost Live interview with comedian Wayne Brady, who lashed out at fellow comedian Bill Maher for using him as a punch line in quips questioning President Barack Obama’s blackness quotient.

Brady found Maher’s comparison out of line. “The black man in his mind is the stereotypical ... That guy exists, but that’s not the range of the black experience,” he said.

Maxine ThomeAn article in the Lansing, Mich., paper City Pulse features Michigan’s transgender community, which held a picnic in August in Ferndale’s Geary Park. About 160 people attended the picnic, making it the state’s largest transgender gathering.

Maxine Thome, executive director of NASW’s Michigan Chapter, was interviewed for the article, and says the liberation many transgender people feel at coming out is familiar to her, and she estimates that 80 percent of her clients in her private practice are making a gender transition.

“When people make the decision to finally transition, its such a relief,” Thome says in the article. “Their self-esteem often escalates. People who are transitioning are finally becoming who they truly are.”

The article details some of the experiences transgender people go through to make a full transition, which can include physical operations, leaving marriages to start a new life as the opposite sex, finding support to cope with change, and coming out to family and friends.

Marc HerstandWisconsin lawmakers were busy with more than a dozen bills in the fall legislative session, says an article in the Wisconsin Reporter, and Assembly Bill 251 was among those discussed.

NASW-Wisconsin Executive Director Marc Herstand was interviewed for the article and says he opposes the legislation, which would allow the state’s counties to sue inmates (who are later sent to state prison) for the cost of the inmate’s stay at county jail before their state prison sentencing. At the time the article was published, in October, the counties could only sue an inmate for costs if the inmate stayed in county jail or got probation.

Most inmates are destitute, Herstand says in the article.

“To make them pay and deal with that bill when they get out, when they’re trying to get established is another barrier to them getting reintegrated in society,” he says. “The real focus needs to be on treatment for ex-offenders and helping them reintegrate in society.”

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