Social Work Month is among the many celebrations in March, with Social Workers Day being celebrated on the third Tuesday of the month. Social work is vital to any community, and it was particularly important during the pandemic. In the face of an unprecedented challenge, social workers played a crucial role in helping people cope with the pandemic and promoting resilience and well-being and continue to play a critical role in the lives of HJAHC patients.
Social workers provided mental health support to the many people experiencing stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges during the pandemic. The work of social workers also helped address social isolation. Many individuals and groups lacked social support and Americans overall reported higher rates of loneliness according to the American Psychological Association. Loneliness has a detrimental impact on long-term health. Despite this, the pandemic ensured that everyone was physically isolated from each other. Social workers used their creativity to find solutions such as virtual support groups, remote check-ins, and other forms of remote outreach and care.
Not only did social workers support the mental health of vulnerable populations, but many also helped ensure physical well-being. Many often sought shelter for COVID-19 patients experiencing homelessness, a vital aspect of stopping the spread. They also helped patients with addiction disorders through the pandemic, as it was undoubtedly more difficult to manage due to the large-scale social isolation.
Social workers helped many individuals and families access healthcare and connected them with resources such as food banks, rental assistance, and other forms of support. They had an understanding of how the pandemic disproportionately impacted vulnerable communities such as communities of color, and low-income individuals.
It is because of this understanding that social workers advocated for policies to help people before, during, after the height of the pandemic. Social workers fought for the eviction moratorium, equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, and the pause of interest and payments on student loans. Social workers have long fought for other things such as student loan forgiveness, child welfare, and integration of the Affordable Care Act.
The critical role social workers played during the pandemic cannot be understated. Communities and individuals coped with and overcame many challenges under their guidance. Social workers helped people on both an individual and community-wide level through actions such as remote counseling, connecting individuals with resources, advocating for policy, and acknowledging the disproportionate impact the pandemic had on different communities. Therefore, it is important to acknowledge the massive contribution of social workers during the month of March, and to know how social workers can help going forward.
Henry J. Austin Health Center is fortunate to have a Behavioral Health team that provides adult, children, and adolescent behavioral health, social services, counseling, addiction services, and more. Our Behavioral Health services are available at all sites and via telehealth. Call 609-278-5900 or visit henryjaustin.org/service/behavioral-and-social-health for more information and to schedule an appointment.