March is National Social Worker Month, a time to spotlight the mission of the profession and its role in advocacy of current issues, creating policy change, and the progress being made in areas like equality and social justice. Social work is a predominantly female profession, and contrary to popular belief, is not just child protective services work! Social work is that and so much more.
Social workers are the boots on the ground in the community, making sure people’s basic needs are met. They are the ones providing counseling and therapy to those struggling with trauma, mental illness, and substance abuse. They are the ones bridging the gap between our children’s school and home life. They are the ones in the hospital holding our loved one’s hand as they plan their return home safely. When doctors and nurses just don’t know how to handle a patient’s issue, they call the social worker. And when faced with end-of-life decisions, they are the ones there to support loved ones through the process and provide comfort in a time of grief.
It is a hard and thankless job, one with no glamour attached. The pay is low, benefits are slim, and there are no summers off. Quirks of the job include things like learning to wear a wardrobe light in color so that bed bugs are more easily spotted when you leave clients’ homes, or learning the hard way that cockroaches are attracted to electronics, so it is best to leave your laptop at the office. Most of all, social workers are expected to perform miracle solutions with the least amount of resources possible.
Social workers work tirelessly day in and day out to create even the smallest change to make the world a better place for us to live in. And after each long day, social workers return home with all that mental and emotional baggage to be mothers, wives, and friends to the ones they love.
I know all of this because I am a social worker, and I want all of the other social workers who are trying to juggle their job in addition to all of their other life duties to know that we see you. We see you struggling to keep everything together yourself sometimes, all while trying to selflessly help others – strangers you don’t even know. We see you working to make this world a better place, and I hope you know that this world IS a better place because you are in it.
Happy Social Work Month, fellow social workers, and thank you for all that you do! Use this month to take a step back and focus on your own self-care, because you certainly deserve it.