A look back: Social Work Month has long history
By Rena Malai, News staff
From its start in the 1960s, Social Work Month has been a
nationwide effort. In 1965, the NASW News published a Social Workers’ Month
Regional Report, which documented the efforts of NASW chapters spreading the
new concept of Social Work Month awareness.
James Roosevelt, then a candidate for mayor of Los Angeles,
called for a city inventory of social problems, serving as one example of how
NASW chapters quickly got the word out as they worked with local
representatives in their respective states.
NASW Social Work Pioneer® Robert Cohen, who previously served
as NASW general counsel as well as interim executive director in 1995, sees
National Professional Social Work Month as celebrating the depth, breadth and
value of the profession.
“Social workers are involved in and have an impact on all
facets of society,” Cohen said. “The initial idea of Social Work Month was to try
to combat the widespread notion that social work was something anyone can do;
or that it just involved people who were good Samaritans trying to help others.
The profession has taken a long time to demonstrate and explain the
professional nature of social work.”
The first Social Work Month theme — “Support Social Work
Education in Your State” — was introduced in 1966. Back then, NASW acknowledged
that the purpose of Social Work Month was to spread public awareness and
knowledge of the profession. And nearly half a century later, the intent is
very much the same.
“Social Work Month is a way for everyone to recognize the
profession — who social workers are and what they do,” said Rita Webb, NASW
policy adviser for women and LGBT issues. “It’s a great opportunity to
According to NASW gold member Betsy Vourlekis, co-chair of the
NASW Social Work Pioneers®, the Social Work Month themes throughout the years
have helped break down the different aspects of social work and shed some light
on what the profession is about.
“NASW’s public information campaigns in connection with Social
Work Month, with a theme, put the profession in charge of the message,”
Vourlekis said. “One big advantage of the yearly campaigns is that each one
takes a part of the reality of what we do. It doesn’t attempt to give an
all-inclusive, hard-to-grasp definition or picture. Each campaign is a
Through the decades, Social Work Month themes have evolved
along with the profession. From “Doing Good Isn’t Bad-It Isn’t Easy Either”
(March 1973) to the latest theme of 2013, “Weaving Threads of Resilience and
Advocacy,” this important month continues to celebrate the profession, and be a
voice for all social workers.
Other past themes include:
“Giving the Profession a Facelift” (1983); “National Health
Care: Vital Signs of a Healthy Nation” (March 1993); and “Preserving Rights,
Strengthening Voices” (March 2003).
“It’s not NASW month, it’s Social Work Month,” Cohen said.
“It’s broad, it’s inclusive, it’s not defined in terms of the MSWs, BSWs and
PhDs, but it’s social work in the broader sense.”
NASW Media Awards
In continued support of those who help promote the social
work profession, the second annual NASW Media Awards program is now open for
nominations. The awards began in 2012 and recognize positive representations of
social work in print, broadcast and digital media.
“We want to honor filmmakers, reporters, bloggers and other
media professionals who in the past year have helped raise awareness about
social work and social work issues,” said Greg Wright, NASW senior public relations and communications specialist.
Past honorees include Talk Therapy TV, a mental health
education public access TV show run by social worker Jacob Berelowitz; and the
made-for-TV movie “Change of Plans,” which featured actress Phylicia Rashad as
an adoption social worker, Wright said.
Members are encouraged to submit nominations that fit any of
the 11 categories through NASW’s Facebook page, or on socialworkersspeak.org.
Nominated pieces must highlight a social worker or an issue
relating to social work. Members may submit multiple nominations for any number
of categories, and one winner in each category will be chosen and announced in
Nominations are being accepted in the following categories:
- Best Documentary
- Best Feature Film
- Best TV News Program
- Best Reality TV Program
- Best TV Entertainment Program
- Best Magazine Article
- Best Newspaper Article
- Best Column
- Best Radio Segment
- Best Single Topic Blog
- Best Website
From January 2013 NASW News. © 2012 National
Association of Social Workers. All Rights Reserved. NASW News
articles may be copied for personal use, but proper notice of
copyright and credit to the NASW News must appear on all copies
made. This permission does not apply to reproduction for advertising,
promotion, resale, or other commercial purposes.