Social Work in Action (July 2014)

A research study finds that a 20-minute conversation with a social worker has the potential to significantly reduce the functional decline of those diagnosed with a mild traumatic brain injury, according to a news article posted on the University of Washington website.

The research was published in the April issue of Brain Injury.

Megan Moore, assistant professor at UW’s School of Social Work, trains social workers in emergency departments to provide education and resources to patients with mild traumatic brain injuries to help them deal with symptoms and the recovery process, the story says.

Moore told NASW that her research has generated interest in the role of social workers in treating patients with serious medical conditions.

“Reporters have asked me, ‘How would a social worker be able to help someone with a medical condition like TBI?’ The general public does not always understand what social workers do and that outcomes from medical conditions are linked to psychosocial factors,” she said.

Moore says in the article, “Social workers are masters-level trained clinicians who are already embedded in emergency room treatment teams. The goal of my work is to provide them with specialized training on mild traumatic brain injuries to help bridge the psychological and social aspects of treatment with medical care.”

The story notes that while conducting her doctoral research at the University of California, Berkeley, Moore designed a study that is currently running at San Francisco General Hospital, a Level 1 trauma center.

Richard Barth, dean of the University of Maryland School of Social Work, was the final speaker at the interdisciplinary Children’s Mental Health Summit II, held on Capitol Hill in May. The event was sponsored in part by NASW.

Barth highlighted the opportunities to promote child mental health and social and emotional well-being that can be found in existing programs, structures, communities and policy initiatives, and can be realized if all stakeholders share a broad definition and recognize their vital roles in one or more aspects of children’s healthy development. Such strategies include behavioral health checkups with children during their routine annual visits in primary care or as part of routine educational services. This would allow identification of early warning signs, prevention and early intervention.

Barth also addressed the importance of identifying and leveraging Affordable Care Act funding mechanisms to meet the urgent financing needs in the children’s mental health service arena, especially for preventive and early intervention services that include work with parents to improve parenting.

The full American Psychological Association recommendations from the summit are available online.

NASW’s Social Work Policy Institute represented the association in co-hosting a workshop on enhancing diversity in science during the 4th International Conference on Sociology and Social Work in May.

SWPI Director Joan Levy Zlotnik presented “Enhancing Diversity in Science: An Effort in Working Across Social and Behavioral Science Disciplines.”

Zlotnik explained the history of targeted initiatives to strengthen and expand social work research contributions, including collaborations with the national scientific community.

SWPI joined with other professional and scientific societies in the Collaborative for Enhancing Diversity in Science (CEDS), to host the workshop “Enhancing Diversity in Science: Working Together to Develop Common Data, Measures, and Standards” in 2012.

From that meeting, CEDS produced a workshop summary, met with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and hosted a second congressional briefing in 2013 called “Innovative Strategies for Building a Diverse Scientific Workforce,” where it released its report of the 2012 workshop and the accompanying recommendations.

An Executive Summary or are Full Report available at the Consortium of Social Science Associations website

The University of Southern California School of Social Work hosted the May conference.

NASW CEO Angelo McClain presented in May an update on the association from a national perspective to about 900 social workers who attended the NASW-New Jersey annual continuing education conference “Social Justice and Social Work: Embracing our Values.”

NASW national board member Rick DeGironimo attended the event and talked with McClain.

“Much of our time also was spent talking about key issues to social workers in New Jersey with regard to the people we serve — specifically children’s mental health,” DeGironimo said.

In addition, McClain visited the Ocean Partnership for Children, where DeGironimo served as CEO until his retirement at the end of May.OPC is the designated care management organization for Ocean County, N.J. — one of 15 CMO’s serving the state.