In the Public Eye: June / July 2023

Mirean Coleman

Social work as a whole is projected to grow by 9 percent by 2031, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The demand is even stronger for some specific roles, including social workers who specialize in health care or in mental health and substance abuse, says an article in Fortune magazine. These job titles are expected to see job growth of 11 percent.

Mirean Coleman, clinical practice director at NASW, is quoted in the Fortune article and says mental health providers or substance use providers are “very good areas for social workers to focus on right now.”

In addition, the pandemic highlighted an unfulfilled need for mental health and behavioral health services, which created flexibility in the profession. There are more settings in which people can work now, Coleman says. Whereas social workers were previously confined to the geographic areas where they were physically located, now they can serve more communities in a hybrid or online setting.

“This makes it really convenient for social workers to select a job where you have the option of working remotely,” Coleman notes.

Amanda Greubel

Being trans is not a mental illness, a “phase,” or a bid for attention. It is an inborn state like left-handedness, says a letter to the editor published in The Observer newspaper in DeWitt, Iowa.

The writer is NASW Iowa Chapter member Amanda Greubel, who wrote in opposition to the state House of Representatives bill, HF 180. It aims for schools to not take any steps to affirm the gender identity of a student without written permission from that child’s parents or guardians. This bill only applies to students who are transgender.

Schools could not allow these students to use the name, pronouns, or bathroom that correspond to their identity. School staff could not assist students who are struggling with gender identity issues and come to them for help.

“As a social worker and a parent myself, I understand the importance of clear and open communication between parents/guardians and school staff. This should not, however, happen at the expense of the child’s health and safety. Please contact your legislators and ask them to vote no on HF 180 and SSB1145,” she wrote.

Johanna Thomas

Johanna Thomas, PhD, LCSW, an avid volunteer with Moms Demand Action, describes the gun violence epidemic in America as a public health crisis because of its scale, unpredictability, and health consequences.

The NASW Arkansas Chapter member and past Arkansas Chapter president, also named the NASW Arkansas 2023 Social Worker of the Year, spoke about this on a panel hosted by Everytown for Gun Safety, the nation’s largest gun violence prevention organization, during National Gun Violence Survivors Week. She was quoted from the panel in Scot Scoop News, a journalism website run by the students of Carlmont High School’s journalism class in Belmont, Calif.

“It’s critical to recognize that survivors of gun violence have been personally impacted in very devastating ways, but we as a nation are also experiencing collective trauma,” said Thomas, associate professor in the School of Social Work at the University of Arkansas. 

“Nowhere is safe anymore. Part of understanding is recognizing that this is a public health issue."

Erika Behunin

How we react to difficult situations can make the problem worse, says NASW Utah Chapter member Erika Behunin, LCSW.

Behunin appeared in the studio of Fox13 in Salt Lake City, Utah, and offered viewers six tips to consider whenever difficult situations arise:

  • Acknowledge your pain and allow yourself to feel a variety of emotions.
  • Seek support from trusted friends, family and professionals.
  • Establish healthy rituals.
  • Access and connect to something larger than yourself.
  • Focus on what is within your control.
  • Seek micro-moments of joy.

When difficult times happen, it can be challenging to see the good, but looking for micro-moments can help, Behunin said.

To read other media stories like these, visit Social Workers Speak.

cover of June / July 2023 issue

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