Mon | Jan 27, 2020

Social workers are people, too

Published:Friday | September 14, 2018 | 12:00 AM


I was intrigued reading the Careers section of The Gleaner on September 2, 2018. It featured an advertisement for a medical social worker whose special working conditions included "required to work beyond normal working hours, extensive travelling in

all weather conditions, may experience stress and stress-related symptoms due to interacting with clients in crisis, and may have to manage physically threatening clients."

On the surface, perhaps, this seems like an advertisement for the armed forces, not a social worker, but sadly, these conditions are not new to social workers.

I wonder how many persons understand the daily functions of social workers, whether medical/ health, school, or childcare facilities. Social workers are involved in the inner, most sacred world of clients, daily labouring as they seek to engage clients in behavioural change. When individuals make public speeches about improving society, social workers are committed to the effort by actively working with clients to effect change.




It is they who spend countless hours seeking family reunification, soliciting assistance for children whose parents have abandoned them. It's social workers who, with few resources, create interventions capable of transforming and restoring lives. Social workers go daily into communities, building rapport, creating avenues for effective rebuilding, training, skills building, providing psychosocial support and other interventions. They are doers of change.

Paul Smith, president of the Health Social Workers, has renewed the call for more social workers, but what about the existing ones? What does your life look like in the midst of your heavy caseload?

When we ask social workers to monitor clients, conduct investigations, and produce reports to inform court rulings within a framework of limited resources, life can become stressful. It is important for those working in the field to practise self-care.


Lecturer, Social Worker

University of the West Indies, Mona