Public Eye: December 2022 / January 2023

Learn what social workers are saying as experts quoted in mainstream media stories.

Holly McFarland, LCSW

More intense natural disasters are taking an increasing toll on people’s mental health. An international group of leading scientists concluded that extreme weather events are followed by increased rates of mental illness, says a news story at Houston Public Media.

NASW-Texas member Holly McFarland, LCSW, a psychotherapist in Fort Worth, said she first realized about four years ago that some of her clients’ mental health conditions were aggravated by climate change.

“It’s only in session two or three that it comes out that climate is kind of underlying,” she says in the story. “It’s this thing in the background [of other problems].”

McFarland joined a group of psychiatrists who were having similar conversations about the intersection of climate change and mental health. She said some of her clients’ feelings of dread, anxiety or trauma were related to climate change, and it was preventing them from planning for their long-term future.

Rebecca Bonanno

There is a nationwide shortage of mental health professionals, but it’s especially acute for children and teenagers, says NASW-New York State chapter member Rebecca Bonanno.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has estimated that by 2025 the nation will have 10,000 fewer mental health professionals than it needs, Bonanno says in an opinion piece she wrote for The New York Times.

There are ways to lessen the child and adolescent therapist shortage by making work more sustainable for new and experienced therapists, Bonanno suggests. State and federal governments can increase funding for mental health agencies so that child therapists can earn a decent wage, she says.

“If we believe that children are our most precious resource and that there is a child mental health care crisis, we should invest in those who care for our children,” she wrote.

Bhanu Joy Harrison, LCSW, SEP

When trauma isn’t clinically diagnosed and professionally treated, it still can manifest as moodiness, anxiety, anger, addictive tendencies, or depression.

NASW-New Mexico member Bhanu Joy Harrison, LCSW, SEP, is quoted in an article at about understanding trauma.

“With stress, you may feel like [you] have so much on [your] plate, time is crunched, life may be difficult and challenging, but there’s enough regulation in your nervous system that you can still get to sleep and your eating is okay,” Harrison says. “Trauma tends to overwhelm the system, rendering it very dysregulated.”

Tragedies and traumas capture our attention because we’re wired to be attuned to potential dangers, Harrison says in the story. She suggests intentionally focusing on calm, goodness, beauty and safety, which is easier when we’re not bombarded with negative media.

Jean Rowe, LCSW

It can be difficult to know what to say when a loved one is diagnosed with breast cancer.

“You don’t have to know what to say,” says NASW-North Carolina member Jean Rowe, LCSW, and certified oncology social worker.

In an article posted at Ebony magazine, Rowe urges being honest by saying, “I don’t know what to say. I don’t know what to do, but I want to help.” Rowe says that will mean more than saying nothing or simply disappearing. The survivor is typically overwhelmed with doctor appointments, research and daily tasks and may not know how to ask for help, the story explains.

“There are different types of friends,” Rowe says in the article. “People with different gifts can support a survivor in different ways.”

cover of December 2022 / January 2023 issue

Social Work Advocates Flipbook

NASW members, sign in to read the December 2022 / January 2023 issue as a flipbook