Happy Social Work Month! March is national Social Work Month. Social Work Month is a wonderful time to promote the profession and the awesome contributions to society from social workers! Here is a little history about National Social Work Month. National Social Work Month was first organized in March of 1963 by NASW (National Association of Social Workers) as a way to encourage public support for the profession. Then in 1984, a joint resolution of Congress was passed and was proclaimed by President Ronald Reagan under Proclamation 5167 on March 22 as National Professional Social Work Month(National Day Calendar website).
Social work is one of the fastest growing professions in the United States, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Currently, there are approximately 700,000 professional social workers in our nation, but the number is expected to rise to more than 800,000 by 2029, according to BLS. Social work has been around for more than a century and social workers have made significant contributions to our nation. Some Pioneers in the Social Work profession include social workers like Jane Addams, a social reformer; former Labor Secretary Frances Perkins, and civil rights leaders Dorothy Height, Whitney Young and Ida B. Wells (NASW website). They have helped Americans secure voting rights, equal rights, Social Security, unemployment insurance, and other programs. The profession of Social Work has many different types of Social Workers. Social workers can be found protecting children from abuse and neglect, providing mental health and substance use disorder treatment, providing care coordination and case management services to health care patients, assisting active duty military, veterans and their families, in schools, helping corporations better serve their communities, and in community organizations as well as in local, state and federal government (NASW website).
Social Workers have not only been essential during the COVID-19 pandemic, but they have been necessary! The skills that social workers have to “engage” and “work” with vulnerable people are important for advocating; educating; and reducing anxiety and fears that so many people have relating to COVID-19. During the COVID-19 pandemic, social workers have also been on the frontlines along with doctors, nurses, grocery store staff and other essential employees. In addition to the COVID-19 pandemic, Social Workers have been essential and necessary in fighting on the frontline against the social injustices in our society. Racism is a Pandemic which is “woven” into our nation’s tapestry. It has existed for over 400 years and continues to exist. Social Workers are “essential” and “necessary” for advocating and fighting for BIPOC populations and communities in which people experience social injustices like racial profiling; experiencing or witnessing racial harassment and brutality; being called racial slurs; community violence; and immigration and deportation issues, on a daily basis. Often, these experiences are cumulative in nature and can impact a person’s physical and mental health, resulting in Racial Trauma.
I want to thank my fellow Social Workers for all that you do! Sometimes it might seem as if you aren’t making a difference; but you are. You are essential and necessary to our society!!
By Dawn Shelton-Williams, MSW, LCSW