Showing posts with label Psychiatric Social Work. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Psychiatric Social Work. Show all posts

Saturday, September 3, 2022

The labors of Hercules - 54 years as a Psychiatric Social Worker

I am reminded of the phrase "The labors of Hercules."

I was thinking yesterday, "After almost 54 years in the field, what do you have to show for what you have produced in your field?"

The answer is "nothing." What we do is not tangible, not concrete, there is nothing to show for all our work.

Some of us have written articles, books, maybe created institutes or organizations, etc. but most therapists labor with nothing to show for all their work.

However there is an intrinsic satisfaction and a faith in the development of humanity which keeps us going. There is the saving of souls when we have facilitated the maturing of higher levels of consciousness that has enhanced the quality of their lives and the people they are in relationship with. So how can our labor be said to produce nothing?

What we generate though is ephemeral. It is unseen. It's of the type of experience we attempt to describe by saying, "Well I can't put it into words. You would have had to have been there to know what I am talking about."

"Aren't you David Markham?"

"Yes, I am."

"You probably don't remember me. I am 43 now and I saw you when I was eleven and you saved my life. Your office was on Ridge Rd, right?"

"Yes, that's right, about 30 years ago."

"I always wanted to tell what a difference the counseling made to me."

We talked a bit more. What a gift.

So this labor day, I celebrate such experiences. We never know, do we Frank, what our work is producing? We are creating and intentionally producing experiences, not things, and so there is nothing to show but sometimes there are memories and the experience of a higher quality life which contributes to a greater sense of well being which some call happiness.

What have we done with our lives? We have helped people experience happiness.

Now that is labor well worth engaging in even if we have nothing to show for it.

Saturday, June 11, 2022

How did you get into Psychiatric Social Work?

I remember taking a vocational assessment in 8th or 9th grade and the question which has always stuck with me is something like "Do you prefer to work with people or things?" And I remember the quick and distinct answer I had, "People!" I remember this so well because I was so certain. 

As I grew older I did a lot of factory work while I was in college being a material handler at G & E and then a film tester at Kodak. My BA degree was in philosophy and then I found out if I got a job at a New York State Hospital they would allow me to go to graduate school on leave with pay. I got a job at Kings Park State Hospital at Kings Park New York on Long Island as a "Psychiatric Social Worker Trainee II." I applied to MSW programs and finally chose SUNY Albany where I attended from 1970 - 1972 and got my MSW in May of 1972 50 years ago.

It has been a wonderful career which I have enjoyed immensely although I have worked 3 jobs most of my career to support my large family.

Back in the 70s Social Work was called a "semi profession" along with nursing, and teaching. The three semi professions were female dominated, more poorly paid, and lower status than the professions of medicine, and law. Over the years the salaries and benefits of nursing and teaching have risen but Social Work has remained a lower paid, lower status, lower benefit semi profession. 

Nonetheless, I don't regret my decision to go into Social Work. The profession is a great fit for me and the satisfaction and fulfillment has been immense and more than offset the lower compensation, benefits, and social status. I have learned to use the low status to my benefit when requests and expectations are placed on me and I demure, saying, "Look, I'm just a Social Worker."

Just a Social Worker but truly yours,

Sunday, January 9, 2022

Social Workers in Primary Care Practices Found to Increase Access to MH Care

Deploying behavioral health social workers in primary care settings can increase the likelihood that patients with depression or anxiety will receive treatment within 30 days of their diagnosis, a study published today in Psychiatric Services in Advance has found. 

In May 2018, changes were made to the electronic health record (EHR) system enabling physicians to more easily refer patients to the behavioral health social workers, who would then call patients within seven days of receiving the referral. 

The social workers screened patients using tools such as the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 and asked patients about current substance use and anxiety as well as any history of psychiatric disorders. The social workers also offered community resources or referred patients to mental health professionals such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or licensed independent social worker. 

Compared with those diagnosed with depression or anxiety before the social workers began working with the primary care practices, patients diagnosed with depression or anxiety had the following: 4.35 times the odds and 4.27 times the odds, respectively, of having a behavioral health visit within 30 days of diagnosis. 5 times the odds of having a visit with a non-psychiatrist therapist. 1.82 times and 1.58 times the odds, respectively, of having a visit with a psychiatrist. 

“Other health systems that have advanced EHR systems should consider introducing social workers trained in behavioral health to triage patients receiving new diagnoses of depression, anxiety, or both and systematically link them to appropriate care,” Pfoh and colleagues concluded.

For more click here.

Editor's note:

This activity described above has been called "case finding" and "outreach." The Behavioral Health Social Workers help lower the barriers to access to MH services. These services are valuable and beneficial. The problem is who pays for them?

Sunday, February 26, 2017

March is Social Work month. What do Social Workers do?

Excellent description of Professional Social Work in letters to the editor on 02/26/17 in the Daily Journal in Tupelo, Mississippi.

"March is National Professional Social Worker month. Social workers stand up for millions of people every day. Most people do not know what social workers do: Social workers help individuals, families and groups restore or enhance their capacity for social functioning and work to create societal conditions that support communities in need."

For more click here.