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7 Reasons Why Social Workers are Nameless Heroes in Our Society

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7 Reasons Why Social Workers are Nameless Heroes in Our Society

Why do you think that social workers are often called the Angels of the Earth? They are also sometimes called the voice for the voiceless. At almost every level of society, social workers are making a difference to people’s lives in often challenging environments. They are beavering away in many areas of public life and helping people who are challenged and neglected. Here are seven glimpses into the joys and sorrows of being a social worker. After you have read this, you will know why they are the unsung heroes in our society.

1. They help the elderly to cope

Did you know that the number of older Americans (65+) has increased by 25% in the last 10 years? A simpler figure to remember is that one in seven Americans is now over 65 because of improved medical care and increased longevity.

Who looks after the elderly with dementia and other diseases when they insist on living on their own? The geriatric social workers of course. They play a key role in helping to improve quality of life and optimal functioning within the familiar domestic environment. They help them with administrative work in deciding which services they can apply for.

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They are also in the front line as they are trained to spot elder abuse and help co-ordinate medical care. If your elderly loved ones need the assistance of a geriatric social worker, you can find one in your area here (USA) or in the UK here. If you live in another country, the official social services will usually have a seniors’ welfare department.

2. They are our guardian angels

“Why am I a Social Worker?The answer is simple: to Be a Helper to the mentally, economically, and educationally impoverished humans on planet earth!” – Darlene Jack, University of South Carolina’s Master of Social Work Program.

It is a sobering fact that, at some point in our lives, we will face a crippling challenge such as financial loss, addiction, unemployment, or illness. This is when social workers will come to our rescue.

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3. They are frustrated by bureaucracy

A social worker quickly learns that they can never act as a “rescuer” on impulse or when faced with an emergency late at night. They have to contact the agencies who are on duty and that makes them frustrated because they are not the ones in the frontline at the right time.

Many social workers are plagued by the fact that they need other experts to help them with their cases. These may be doctors, probation officers, teachers, or youth workers. They find it really difficult to liaise with them because they never return their calls. Another problem is that they have to “hot desk” as there may be shortage of office accommodation due to government cuts.

4. They are trained to deal with alcohol abuse

The consumption of alcohol in our society is so normal that its abuse is often ignored and even tolerated. There are many cases of people drinking themselves to death and yet no one will raise the alarm. In other cases, the intervention of a highly trained social worker and counsellor often saves that person from destroying their lives and those of their loved ones. They know that telling a person to stop drinking suddenly can be fatal. They follow the Stages of Change which helps alcoholics to understand the stages involved in contemplation of the problem and preparing for the changes they need to make.

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5. They have to watch boundaries

The social worker may get very heavily involved in patients’ lives and, at times, may find it difficult to draw a boundary. A typical case was where a social worker was asked to give the eulogy at the funeral of a patient she had been helping. The patient’s parents held her in such esteem and admired her work so much that she seemed to be an obvious choice. But the social worker faced an ethical dilemma in that she did not want to break the privacy rules, while at the same time she did not want to offend the family. Sometimes, social workers find it difficult to draw the boundary lines because they care so much for their charges.

6. They help to mend broken families

The social worker is the go to person when families disintegrate under the weight of domestic violence, conflict and sibling rivalry. It is the social workers who are the heroes, as they are the ones who are prepared to listen with empathy and understanding. Above all, they know how to intervene effectively so that further tragedy can be avoided.

One social worker described how he had to deal with a 16-year-old boy who had attacked his mother with a knife. His family rejected him but the social worker knew that the boy would make contact after he was released from care. His work was to counsel both the boy and the mother for that eventuality. The boy and mother were reconciled after some sessions with the social worker. The boy went back to school and now works in social care himself. This is what makes the job so satisfying and why it is so gratifying.

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7. They can help people get back on track

It is tragic to see society treat mental illness with disdain, intolerance, and indifference. The social worker is the heroine who shows that she cares and she knows the true worth of a person. She is the one who will be their advocate and will help them on the road towards empowerment.

I remember talking to one mental health worker who described how she helped a woman with severe depression. She had no job prospects, no social support network and was on social benefits to survive. The social worker counselled her and she is now confident about her future, has found a job and is pursuing a hobby. Through the hobby, she has made friends and she is back on track. It is cases like these that make the social worker’s life so rewarding.

It is their dedication, caring and love for their fellow human beings which make them the unsung heroes or heroines as we have seen from the examples above.

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“If I was to give advice to social work students, I would say it’s really, really hard and it’s a lot of work. But it’s really rewarding too, so I think if you’re going to go into it then you have to do it whole-heartedly.” Gareth Benjamin, social worker student at Plymouth University (UK).

Featured photo credit: Social work/Army Medicine via flickr.com

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Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on November 18, 2021

10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

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10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

We all fall into the trap of judging a person’s character by their appearance. How wrong we are! All too often, the real character of the person only appears when some negative event hits them or you. Then you may see a toxic person emerging from the ruins and it is often a shock.

A truly frightening example is revealed in the book by O’Toole in Bowman called Dangerous Instincts: How Gut Instincts Betray Us. A perfectly respectable, charming, well dressed neighbor was found to have installed a torture chamber in his garage where he was systematically abusing kidnapped women. This is an extreme example, but it does show how we can be totally deceived by a person’s physical appearance, manners and behavior.

So, what can you do? You want to be able to assess personal qualities when you come into contact with colleagues, fresh acquaintances and new friends who might even become lifelong partners. You want to know if they are:

  • honest
  • reliable
  • competent
  • kind and compassionate
  • capable of taking the blame
  • able to persevere
  • modest and humble
  • pacific and can control anger.

The secret is to reserve judgment and take your time. Observe them in certain situations; look at how they react. Listen to them talking, joking, laughing, explaining, complaining, blaming, praising, ranting, and preaching. Only then will you be able to judge their character. This is not foolproof, but if you follow the 10 ways below, you have a pretty good chance of not ending up in an abusive relationship.

1. Is anger a frequent occurrence?

All too often, angry reactions which may seem to be excessive are a sign that there are underlying issues. Do not think that every person who just snaps and throws his/her weight around mentally and physically is just reacting normally. Everyone has an occasional angry outburst when driving or when things go pear-shaped.

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But if this is almost a daily occurrence, then you need to discover why and maybe avoid that person. Too often, anger will escalate to violent and aggressive behavior. You do not want to be near someone who thinks violence can solve personal or global problems.

2. Can you witness acts of kindness?

How often do you see this person being kind and considerate? Do they give money to beggars, donate to charity, do voluntary work or in some simple way show that they are willing to share the planet with about 7 billion other people?

I was shocked when a guest of mine never showed any kindness to the weak and disadvantaged people in our town. She was ostensibly a religious person, but I began to doubt the sincerity of her beliefs.

“The best index to a person’s character is how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and how he treats people who can’t fight back.”

Abigail Van Buren

3. How does this person take the blame?

Maybe you know that s/he is responsible for a screw-up in the office or even in not turning up on time for a date. Look at their reaction. If they start blaming other colleagues or the traffic, well, this is an indication that they are not willing to take responsibility for their mistakes.

4. Don’t use Facebook as an indicator.

You will be relieved to know that graphology (the study of that forgotten skill of handwriting) is no longer considered a reliable test of a person’s character. Neither is Facebook stalking, fortunately. A study showed that Facebook use of foul language, sexual innuendo and gossip were not reliable indicators of a candidate’s character or future performance in the workplace.

5. Read their emails.

Now a much better idea is to read the person’s emails. Studies show that the use of the following can indicate certain personality traits:

  • Too many exclamation points may reveal a sunny disposition
  • Frequent errors may indicate apathy
  • Use of smileys is the only way a person can smile at you
  • Use of the third person may reveal a certain formality
  • Too many question marks can show anger
  • Overuse of capital letters is regarded as shouting. They are a definite no-no in netiquette, yet a surprising number of  people still use them.

6. Watch out for the show offs.

Listen to people as they talk. How often do they mention their achievements, promotions, awards and successes? If this happens a lot, it is a sure indication that this person has an over-inflated view of his/her achievements. They are unlikely to be modest or show humility. What a pity!  Another person to avoid.

7. Look for evidence of perseverance.

A powerful indicator of grit and tenacity is when a person persists and never gives up when they really want to achieve a life goal. Look for evidence of them keeping going in spite of enormous difficulties.

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Great achievements by scientists and inventors all bear the hallmark of perseverance. We only have to think of Einstein, Edison (who failed thousands of times) and Nelson Mandela to get inspiration. The US Department of Education is in no doubt about how grit, tenacity and perseverance will be key success factors for youth in the 21st century.

8. Their empathy score is high.

Listen to how they talk about the less fortunate members of our society such as the poor, immigrants and the disabled. Do you notice that they talk in a compassionate way about these people? The fact that they even mention them is a strong indicator of empathy.

People with zero empathy will never talk about the disadvantaged. They will rarely ask you a question about a difficult time or relationship. They will usually steer the conversation back to themselves. These people have zero empathy and in extreme cases, they are psychopaths who never show any feelings towards their victims.

9. Learn how to be socially interactive.

We are social animals and this is what makes us so uniquely human. If a person is isolated or a loner, this may be a negative indicator of their character. You want to meet a person who knows about trust, honesty and loyalty. The only way to practice these great qualities is to actually interact socially. The great advantage is that you can share problems and celebrate success and joy together.

“One can acquire everything in solitude, except character.”

Stendhal

 10. Avoid toxic people.

These people are trying to control others and often are failing to come to terms with their own failures. Typical behavior and conversations may concern:

  • Envy or jealousy
  • Criticism of partners, colleagues and friends
  • Complaining about their own lack of success
  • Blaming others for their own bad luck or failure
  • Obsession with themselves and their problems

Listen to these people talk and you will quickly discover that you need to avoid them at all costs because their negativity will drag you down. In addition, as much as you would like to help them, you are not qualified to do so.

Now, having looked at some of the best ways to judge a person, what about yourself? How do others see you? Why not take Dr. Phil’s quiz and find out. Can you bear it?

Featured photo credit: Jacek Dylag via unsplash.com

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