March is Social Worker Month: 5 Ways You Can Honor Social Workers this Month
Social workers make enormous contributions to the communities they serve. Unless you have been on the receiving end of their services, you may not even know what kind of difference this small but influential group of people can have on a community. And yet despite their contributions, social workers often go unrecognized and underappreciated. Social work month is a great time to show appreciation for social workers in your community.
Social worker month begins every March 1st and ends on the 31st. It first began in the 1960’s as a way to generate public awareness of the profession. Few people know it exists, or celebrate it’s importance. This year’s theme is Social Work Breaks Barriers. Below, we have highlighted 5 ways you you can honor and improve the lives of social workers in your community.
Acknowledge the Importance of Social Workers
Social workers are in the business of reducing pain. Usually, emotional pain. They come into people’s lives when things are at their most difficult— often when everyone else has given up on that individual, and they do everything in their power to make things better. They also serve as social justice advocates, working hard to promote equality and get fair treatment for society’s most marginalized people.
They sometimes suffer for their work. It can be a hard, and demanding job. They tend to work long hours and receive a modest salary. Social workers frequently report suffering from anxiety and depression as a direct extension of the emotions they experience on the job.
It’s a position in which you are constantly encountering human life at its hardest. While people who become social workers likely did so because they have a natural inclination toward relieving suffering, everyone has their limits. The work has a way of wearing on people, and while self-care for social workers can help, they often need community support as well.
Spread the Word
Social worker month, despite its long history, is under-celebrated. Spreading the word is a simple kindness that can have a big mood-boosting effect on the social workers in your life. Hop on your social media and help spread the word, or give a shout out to a social worker you know. For extra points, see if there are any local social worker groups who are posting about the month on their accounts. By sharing these posts, you can be sure that you are calling attention to this important work that they do.
If you want to go above and beyond the call of duty, you can look for grassroots ways to engage the community and maybe even attract some future social workers. The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) highlights many ways that you can use this month to boost social awareness and maybe even recruit new social workers.
Their tips range significantly from writing op-eds in the local newspaper to volunteering to hand out literature at your local community college. These steps are admittedly more time-consuming than posting a social media post or two, but they can make a big difference in the world of social work. Not only is this good for social workers, but it is also big for the communities that they serve.
Get Out and Vote
Social workers, in addition to their usual responsibilities, often serve as advocates for marginalized groups. The best way to improve human rights and resources is to get out and vote. Often, social workers spearhead campaigns to encourage people to do exactly that. Unfortunately, these pleas often fall on deaf ears. Only about 40% of voters participate in mid-term elections. Those numbers have been rising ever so slightly in the last few elections, perhaps in response to the fraught political climate. However, national turnout is still modest at best. If you want to brighten a social worker’s day, think about volunteering time to a “get out and vote,” campaign. Chances are, there is some sort of local voting opportunity within sixty days of social worker month. Positions like school board or town alderperson often fly under the radar, even as they are offices that have a much bigger impact on your daily life than state or national positions. Even if there isn’t a voting opportunity in the near future, you can make a difference by encouraging people to register to vote.
Say Thank You
Make time to thank a social worker this month. The average employee, regardless of their profession, reports feeling unappreciated and unrecognized at their job. In social work, this experience is exacerbated by the emotionally fraught territory in which the social worker is operating. Show them you care! Tell the social worker in your life, be they a friend, a family member, or a professional who you work that you appreciate them. If you really want to pay some kindness forward, you can even treat them to something small. A coffee, a muffin, a card. A simple act of kindness and appreciation can go a long way.
Check out additional ideas on how to celebrate Social Work month!
To all of our social worker subscribers, we want to thank you for the work you do. We appreciate how you tirelessly work to aid the people of our communities, and we see all the difference you make.
Guest Blogger: Abby Thompson
Abby Thompson has worked as a young adult education consultant for the past six years. Her passion is to teach future generations about proper mental health care and how to build strong personal relationships.
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