As COVID Cases Decline, Social Workers Address the Fallout

By Laetitia Clayton

Laetitia Clayton

In this column one year ago, I wrote that spring and vaccines were making things seem brighter and giving many of us hope. It was definitely an improvement over the previous year—spring 2020—when the global coronavirus pandemic officially began.

I also wrote a year ago that COVID-19 had claimed about 500,000 lives. Today, that number is nearly double. That’s almost 1 million people in the U.S. alone who have died from the virus so far. Even though we’re now seeing declines in the numbers of coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths, we’re also seeing the fallout from the pandemic.

COVID has brought to light existing problems in our society, like racial and economic inequalities— and social workers and other mental health professionals predicted the current mental health crisis, which especially seems to be affecting children. We’re also in the middle of an economic recession and inflation.

One effect a lot of us may not have seen coming is known as “The Great Resignation,” where people are quitting their jobs in record numbers. It’s also a turn of events of sorts, in that employees now expect more from their jobs—and their employers.

In this issue’s cover story, we examine how The Great Resignation is affecting the social work profession. The good news is that even though social workers are leaving jobs, most — but not all — are staying within the profession. Another bright spot is that the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that social work will continue to grow “faster than average” for all occupations. Part of this is likely because more social workers are — and will continue to be — needed to help us recover from the trauma of the pandemic and its after effects.

One area of social work that is expected to continue growing is health care, with the BLS reporting that health care and substance abuse social work is projected at 15% growth. You can learn more about health care social work in our second feature article in this issue, which includes information about topics like telehealth, supporting youth, and climate change.

In the Association News section, you can read about NASW’s Social Work Talks podcast, now in its third year and gaining in popularity. You can also learn how NASW is addressing the federal “No Surprises Act”; read about five Social Work Pioneers who have been recognized for blazing trails; and much more.

Also, in the next issue of Social Work Advocates, we will take a thorough look at the children’s mental health crisis and the social work response. We also will tell you about advocacy efforts for members of the LGBTQAI+ community, whose rights are currently under attack in many states. Look for those articles and other stories in the June-July issue.

Until next time,

Social Work Advocates April/May 2022 issue with The Great Resignation on cover

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Connect to End Covid-19

Connect to End COVID-19

NASW's CDC-funded initiative helps social workers and their clients to make informed decisions about life-saving vaccines.

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