Cumberland Times-News

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March 21, 2008

Social workers play many roles in our society

Social work is a practical profession aimed at helping people address their problems and matching them with the resources they need to lead healthy and productive lives. Beneath this practicality lies a strong value system that can be summarized in two words: social justice.

Social justice is the view that everyone deserves equal economic, political, and social rights and opportunities. Social workers aim to open the doors of access and opportunity for everyone, particularly those greatest in need.

The original mission of social work had much to do with championing the rights of society's most vulnerable members, from children to homeless people to the physically disabled. That mission remains the same over 100 years later.

Social workers play a key role in many health-related areas and more. Did you know that social workers provide most of the country's mental health services? According to government sources, 60 percent of mental health professionals are clinically trained social workers.

Social workers provide mental heath services in a variety of settings, including community mental heath programs, disaster relief programs, employee assistance programs, military and veteran's services, private practice, hospitals and skilled nursing facilities, schools, and rehabilitation programs.

Social work's professional organization, The National Association of Social Workers, is the largest membership organization of professional social workers in the world, with 150,000 members.

NASW works to shape legislation and public policy that protects and strengthens the social work profession, promotes health, welfare, and education in communities, and strengthens opportunities and social supports for individuals, families, and communities.

It also works to protect the public and ensure high quality social work services in communities.

March is National Social Work month and this year's theme is "Building on Strengths: Help Starts Here."

Please take a moment to recognize a social worker and the individuals, families, and communities with which they work and recognize the many strengths that are abundant in our community. For more information on NASW, visit www.socialworkers.org.

Joy Reckley, LCSW-C

National Association of Social Workers

Maryland Chapter, Board Representative

Branch B- Garrett, Allegany, Washington, and Frederick Counties

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