Social Work in the Public Eye (March 2018)

NASW member Leah Headings, a licensed clinical social worker who works with children and families, was quoted in a story published in the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal about compulsive cell phone use.

Leah Headings

Leah Headings

While there is debate about whether people can be addicted to cell phones in the same way they are addicted to drugs, alcohol or tobacco, some mental health advocates see an overlap in behaviors, the story says. 

In many families, parents are already using cell phones to guide behavior, Headings noted.

“The phone has become the number one reinforcer/motivator for parents,” she said. 

Parents need to watch for signs of obsessiveness both in the amount of time children spend on devices and their kids’ interactions with others, the story suggests.

“Their self-esteem shouldn’t be wrapped up totally in it,” Headings is quoted as saying. “Encourage other things, so they will be more well-rounded.”

Parents need to stress they have the right to check phones regularly and monitor use, the article says.

“What kids need to understand is that it’s a privilege, not a right,” Headings said.

NASW member Steven Button is co-chair of the nonprofit Suicide Prevention Action Network Region 2 in Idaho, where it is estimated to have the highest suicide rate in the state with a five-year average of 25 per 100,000 residents.

Steve Button

Steve Button

This high number has encouraged Button to push for increased access to mental health treatment and to double down on promoting annual walks and awareness events that SPAN hosts in the area, according to a story published in the Lewiston Tribune in Lewiston, Idaho. 

Every fall and in April, SPAN supports awareness campaigns, especially in the schools where Button is a social worker for the Lewiston School District, the article notes. 

“I try to make staff and kids aware suicide is the one thing that can’t be confidential,” Button is quoted as saying. “If you have a friend who says something, you can’t keep things secret or private; my catchphrase is ‘Save your friendship or save a life.’”

The Centers for Disease Control notes overdose deaths involving prescription opioids have quadrupled since 1999, as have the sales of opioid analgesic medications, according to an article posted at the Westport Patch in Connecticut. 

Studies suggest that widespread access of naloxone, known by the brand name Narcan, could reduce the opioid overdose death rate by as much as 50 percent. 

Naloxone is often used as an antidote for opioid overdoses, the article says. 

Ellen Brezovsky

Ellen Brezovsky

NASW member Ellen Brezovsky, an LCSW from Silver Hill Hospital, was planning to host a free life-saving naloxone/Narcan training event through the Westport Prevention Coalition, a partnership of Westport residents and professionals, the story says. 

The coalition aims to educate individuals about the risks of heroin and other opioid use and the potentially life-saving benefits of naloxone.

“Silver Hill is invested in preventing opioid overdoses,” Brezovsky says in the article. “Anything we can do to decrease the risk of accidental overdose and death from opioids is a top priority, and we look forward to continuing to partner with community agencies to accomplish that goal.”

Cleveland State University professor and NASW member Michael A. Dover plans to use an ongoing series published in The Cleveland Plain Dealer to teach his students about social work advocacy.

Michael Dover

Michael Dover

An article posted at points out that the series, “A Greater Cleveland,” highlights eight families living in poverty.

Launched last summer, the series is a long-term effort by and The Plain Dealer to come up with solutions to improve lives, the article says.

Dover noted he will ask students in his four undergraduate and graduate classes to discuss and, in some cases, write about issues identified in the series.  

He said the series is a natural for social work advocacy classes because his sophomores and juniors have not yet worked in the field.

The families’ stories are akin to case files and will allow students to identify the issues and write policy briefs and advocacy papers that push government and civic leaders to make changes, Dover said.  

To read other media stories like these, visit