Social Workers: the professionals who lend a helping hand whenever someone’s feeling down. They’re the ones trying to keep everyone afloat during and after the pandemic. They’re the warriors constantly fighting on the front lines for justice, peace, and equality.
March 21st marks World Social Worker Day. It’s a day where we celebrate the social workers who impact our lives. We all know the work they do is extremely important. But did you know approximately 70.1% of social workers experience emotional exhaustion? Considering the high caseloads, frequent interaction with clients, and vicarious trauma, we know that social work is a devalued profession.
So how can you support a social worker? Here are 10 suggestions:
1. Make a ‘Thank You’ card
Social workers often need a ‘thank you’ when supporting their clients. A simple card would go a long way. You’re not only appreciating their work, but recognizing their contributions. You can make one digitally through Canva or craft one on your own.
2. Listen to their concerns
Social workers often work in underfunded organizations, where the environment is not the best. By listening to their concerns, you are allowing them a space to share their emotions.
3. Buy them a coffee
Plenty of social workers love their morning cup of coffee when they head to work. So why not purchase one for them?
4. Educate yourself on the profession
Educate yourself on social work.There are misconceptions about the field. Many believe that social workers take children away, or that social workers are counselors. These stereotypes are far from the truth, as social workers have plenty of other roles to fill. By educating yourself, you’re being aware of your own biases toward the profession.
5. Introduce them to a hobby
Due to the nature of social work, many employees often feel drained. So, if your best friend is a social worker, introduce them to a hobby which may take their mind off work-related stressors. Go to the gym with them, take an art class, read a book, or conduct a science experiment – you never know what they might like.
6. Campaign with a social work student
Social work studies aren’t easy; the workload can be high. From experience, I can tell you many social work students are dissatisfied with a few components in the program, such as having an unpaid placement, unempathetic professors, and attending lectures from outdated materials. However, social work students also initiate campaigns against these issues. For example, the Students Against Unpaid Internship Scams fights against unpaid practicums. To support the profession, you can also join one of these campaigns and fight for justice alongside a social work student.
7. Help them with finding resources for self-care
Self-care is the answer to minimizing burnout. But many social workers may not know the way to go about it. However, you can guide them by providing a few resources, such as showing them articles, organizations, and websites.
8. Offer peer support
If you work in a non-profit organization with social workers, try to offer peer support. Peer support aims to promote workplace well-being by allowing staff to assist each other in times of personal struggle. An organization can do this by offering psychological first aid training, team-building exercises, or re-evaluating current policies. Look at how your organization does this and see if any changes are necessary.
9. Advocate alongside social workers
Lack of public assistance programs and the health insurance gap are impacting social workers. Many work with clients who need these programs, but with the lack of support, social workers are challenged to bridge the gap. In order to support them, it’s best to advocate against these issues. This way, their clients will be able to receive better services.
10. Encourage them to advocate for themselves
Social workers often have a difficult time with personal boundaries. When they receive too much of a workload, they decide to stick with it and push through. So support a social worker by encouraging them to advocate for themselves. Although they advocate for their clients, they also have to respect their limits.
Social work isn’t an easy profession. There are multiple challenges in our current society affecting people. However, by understanding what social workers go through on a daily basis and empathizing with them, you can make a bigger impact on the profession and the clients who utilize social services. So, give a pat on the back for the social worker you know and be sure to go to Starbucks with them after their gruesome shift.
Feature Image by Ron Lach on Pexels
The experts who offer assistance anytime someone is in need. They are the ones attempting to maintain order throughout and after the pandemic. They are the soldiers who are always on the front lines of the struggle for equality, justice, and peace.
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