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7 Reasons Why Social Workers are Nameless Heroes in Our Society

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.

“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 September 18, 2020

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

For the original article by Celestine: 13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

“We all have problems. The way we solve them is what makes us different.” ~Unknown

“It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye

Have you ever experienced moments when things just don’t go your way? For example, losing your keys, accidentally spilling your drink, waking up late, missing your buses/trains, forgetting to bring your things, and so on?

You’re not alone. All of us, myself included, experience times when things don’t go as we expect.

Here is my guide on how to deal with daily setbacks.

1. Take a step back and evaluate

When something bad happens, take a step back and evaluate the situation. Some questions to ask yourself:

  1. What is the problem?
  2. Are you the only person facing this problem in the world today?
  3. How does this problem look like at an individual level? A national level? On a global scale?
  4. What’s the worst possible thing that can happen to you as a result of this?
  5. How is it going to impact your life in the next 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?

Doing this exercise is not to undermine the problem or disclaiming responsibility, but to consider different perspectives, so you can adopt the best approach for it. Most problems we encounter daily may seem like huge issues when they crop up, but most, if not all, don’t have much impact in our life beyond that day.

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2. Vent if you have to, but don’t linger on the problem

If you feel very frustrated and need to let off some steam, go ahead and do that. Talk to a friend, complain, crib about it, or scream at the top of your lungs if it makes you happy.

At the same time, don’t get caught up with venting. While venting may temporarily relieve yourself, it’s not going to solve the problem ultimately. You don’t want to be an energy vampire.

Vent if there’s a need to, but do it for 15 to 20 minutes. Then move on.

3. Realize there are others out there facing this too

Even though the situation may be frustrating, you’re not alone. Remember there are almost 7 billion people in the world today, and chances are that other people have faced the same thing before too. Knowing it’s not just you helps you to get out of a self-victimizing mindset.

4. Process your thoughts/emotions

Process your thoughts/emotions with any of the four methods:

  1. Journal. Write your unhappiness in a private diary or in your blog. It doesn’t have to be formal at all – it can be a brain dump on rough paper or new word document. Delete after you are done.
  2. Audio taping. Record yourself as you talk out what’s on your mind. Tools include tape recorder, your PC (Audacity is a freeware for recording/editing audio) and your mobile (most mobiles today have audio recording functions). You can even use your voice mail for this. Just talking helps you to gain awareness of your emotions. After recording, play back and listen to what you said. You might find it quite revealing.
  3. Meditation. At its simplest form, meditation is just sitting/lying still and observing your reality as it is – including your thoughts and emotions. Some think that it involves some complex mambo-jumbo, but it doesn’t.
  4. Talking to someone. Talking about it with someone helps you work through the issue. It also gets you an alternate viewpoint and consider it from a different angle.

5. Acknowledge your thoughts

Don’t resist your thoughts, but acknowledge them. This includes both positive and negative thoughts.

By acknowledging, I mean recognizing these thoughts exist. So if say, you have a thought that says, “Wow, I’m so stupid!”, acknowledge that. If you have a thought that says, “I can’t believe this is happening to me again”, acknowledge that as well.

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Know that acknowledging the thoughts doesn’t mean you agree with them. It’s simply recognizing the existence of said thoughts so that you can stop resisting yourself and focus on the situation on hand.

6. Give yourself a break

If you’re very stressed out by the situation, and the problem is not time sensitive, then give yourself a break. Take a walk, listen to some music, watch a movie, or get some sleep. When you’re done, you should feel a lot more revitalized to deal with the situation.

7. Uncover what you’re really upset about

A lot of times, the anger we feel isn’t about the world. You may start off feeling angry at someone or something, but at the depth of it, it’s anger toward yourself.

Uncover the root of your anger. I have written a five part anger management series on how to permanently overcome anger.

After that, ask yourself: How can you improve the situation? Go to Step #9, where you define your actionable steps. Our anger comes from not having control on the situation. Sitting there and feeling infuriated is not going to change the situation. The more action we take, the more we will regain control over the situation, the better we will feel.

8. See this as an obstacle to be overcome

As Helen Keller once said,

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

Whatever you’re facing right now, see it as an obstacle to be overcome. In every worthy endeavor, there’ll always be countless obstacles that emerge along the way. These obstacles are what separate the people who make it, and those who don’t. If you’re able to push through and overcome them, you’ll emerge a stronger person than before. It’ll be harder for anything to get you down in the future.

9. Analyze the situation – Focus on actionable steps

In every setback, there are going to be things that can’t be reversed since they have already occurred. You want to focus on things that can still be changed (salvageable) vs. things that have already happened and can’t be changed. The only time the situation changes is when you take steps to improve it. Rather than cry over spilt milk, work through your situation:

  1. What’s the situation?
  2. What’s stressing you about this situation?
  3. What are the next steps that’ll help you resolve them?
  4. Take action on your next steps!

After you have identified your next steps, act on them. The key here is to focus on the actionable steps, not the inactionable steps. It’s about regaining control over the situation through direct action.

10. Identify how it occurred (so it won’t occur again next time)

A lot of times we react to our problems. The problem occurs, and we try to make the best out of what has happened within the context. While developing a healthy coping mechanism is important (which is what the other helping points are on), it’s also equally important, if not more, to understand how the problem arose. This way, you can work on preventing it from taking place next time, vs. dealing reactively with it.

Most of us probably think the problem is outside of our control, but reality is most of the times it’s fully preventable. It’s just a matter of how much responsibility you take over the problem.

For example, for someone who can’t get a cab for work in the morning, he/she may see the problem as a lack of cabs in the country, or bad luck. However, if you trace to the root of the problem, it’s probably more to do with (a) Having unrealistic expectations of the length of time to get a cab. He/she should budget more time for waiting for a cab next time. (b) Oversleeping, because he/she was too tired from working late the previous day. He/she should allocate enough time for rest next time. He/she should also pick up better time management skills, so as to finish work in lesser time.

11. Realize the situation can be a lot worse

No matter how bad the situation is, it can always be much worse. A plus point vs. negative point analysis will help you realize that.

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12. Do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it

No matter how bad your situation may seem, do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it. Life is too beautiful to worry so much over daily issues. Take a step back (#1), give yourself a break if you need to (#6), and do what you can within your means (#9). Everything else will unfold accordingly. Worrying too much about the outcome isn’t going to change things or make your life any better.

13. Pick out the learning points from the encounter

There’s something to learn from every encounter. What have you learned from this situation? What lessons have you taken away?

After you identify your learning points, think about how you’re going to apply them moving forward. With this, you’ve clearly gained something from this encounter. You’ve walked away a stronger, wiser, better person, with more life lessons to draw from in the future.

Get the manifesto version of this article: [Manifesto] What To Do When Things Don’t Go Your Way

Featured photo credit: Alice Donovan Rouse via unsplash.com

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