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Public Eye (September 2012)

Lynne HealyLynne Healy, professor of social work at the University of Connecticut, has helped the school secure a reputation as having one of the leading programs for international social work training in the country, according to an online article on UConn Today.

Healy, an NASW member, is recognized for spending the last three decades teaching new social workers to navigate the culturally diverse directions in which their professions may take them.

“There has definitely been a growth in interest in international studies,” Healy says in the article. “For some of those students, there is interest in working in another country. But for others, those international issues are right here in the diverse populations in Connecticut and places like Hartford.”

Connecting with individuals from different backgrounds can be a challenge, she said, and social workers benefit from learning about other cultures.

“Every social worker needs some awareness and knowledge of international issues,” Healy said. “There is a lot more attention being given to these different populations coming into our agencies, our schools, our hospitals, our clinics.”

Healy played an active role 20 years ago in setting up the Center for International Social Work Studies at UConn, where she serves as co-director. Social workers at the center can gain knowledge on global perspectives pertaining to social policy and social work practice, human rights and human needs.

The center has hosted talks by visitors from 37 countries and continues to host seminars and talks on world issues, such as human trafficking and immigration law.

Salome Raheim, dean of UConn’s School of Social Work, describes Healy in the article as a teacher of teachers and an internationally known scholar in the field of international social work.

“Dr. Healy is an educator of extraordinary ability and dedication,” Raheim said. “The global perspective that she brings through her scholarship and internationally focused public engagement enriches the content of our academic programs and enhances student learning.”

The UConn board of trustees has honored Healy as one of two new distinguished professors at UConn.

Bernard CurryNASW member Bernard Curry, a Navy veteran, believes in making sure military veterans receive the care they need for mental health.

Curry, a licensed clinical social worker, owns In Home Clinical and Casework Services Inc., located in Norfolk, Va., where he serves as clinical director and president of the company.

In an editorial Curry wrote that was published in the Virginian-Pilot, he describes a situation that happened with a veteran who had gone to a psychiatrist to talk about issues he was facing.

The patient was given a 30-day prescription for depression medication without being referred or given an appointment for counseling, after which he sought Curry’s advice.

“The veteran was despondent; he wanted to talk to someone, whether he was given medication or not,” Curry wrote in the editorial. “The prescribing psychiatrist, (the veteran) said, did not spend a lot of time with him and asked few questions.”

Curry says the psychiatrist should have asked routine questions to see if medication was the right course, but the patient said that did not happen. After seeing an article in the Virginian-Pilot titled “VA plans to hire 1,900 mental health workers,” the situation prompted Curry to write a responding piece for the newspaper.

In the editorial, he says there is a need for the federal government to seek contracts with licensed mental health professionals in Virginia and across the country to work with military veterans.

“The hiring (of 1,900 mental health care workers) is reportedly to cut down on wait times and reduce suicides,” Curry wrote. “The total to be hired includes 300 support staff — woefully insufficient to address the needs of veterans seeking mental health care at VA hospitals and akin to putting a Band-Aid on a gaping wound.”

Curry says that what happened to the veteran patient who sought his advice should not happen to anyone else.

“With the technology that exists today, any licensed mental health professional could become a contractor, and Veterans Affairs offices could have access to all of them,” he said. “Immediately, that would triple or quadruple the number of mental health workers and drastically reduce wait times.”

Everyone craves a particular food from time to time, and according to the health blog on, 45-year-old Teresa Wildener is no different.

But her food of choice doesn’t fall along the lines of chocolate, chips, pizza or fries. She prefers eating rocks. “… they crunch on my teeth,” says Wildener, who lives in Beford, Va. “I like that it has an earthy flavor.”

The article says that Wildener has a mental/behavioral health condition called pica, which causes people to eat unusual items.

Jordana MansbacherNASW member Jordana Mansbacher says the phenomenon is fairly common among women, especially pregnant women.

“People will eat anything when it comes to pica,” Mansbacher says in the article. “They will eat toilet paper. They will eat fabric. They will eat carpet. They will eat paper. They will eat wood. They will eat clothing. They will eat skin. They will eat metal.”

Mansbacher, a clinical social worker in Los Angeles specializing in eating disorders — including pica — says pregnant women tend to be anemic because nutrients go straight to the fetus. They will crave mineral-abundant sources such as zinc-rich ice and iron-rich soil and clay, she says in the article. However, pica also affects non-pregnant women. Eating things like soil, rocks and clay could introduce parasites and cause internal punctures of tissue, and bleeding, Mansbacher points out.

People with pica shouldn’t hide their disorder, she says, but she recommends a blood test to determine if there are mineral or vitamin deficiencies.

“If there is a deficiency, I would then ask your M.D. for a treatment plan to include vitamin or mineral supplements or an alteration in one’s diet,” she says.

The term ‘pica’ is the Latin word for magpie, a bird believed to eat anything.

Philip Elbaum

Father and daughter relationships are highlighted in a June article in the Chicago Tribune, where women from various backgrounds discuss the influence their fathers had on their lives and careers.

NASW member Philip Elbaum, a licensed clinical social worker and assistant professor of psychiatry at Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine, says in the article that a father’s encouragement is key to his daughter’s success.

“In the situation where the young woman growing up sees the father as supportive … when she grows up in the work world, she can think she has as many opportunities,” Elbaum says.