Breaking Barriers: How Social Workers Make a Lasting Impact on Our Communities

This month, like every March, we celebrate the great work of social workers, who have a true desire to help people and make society a better place. This year’s theme, Social Work Breaks Barriers, underscores the innovative ways in which social workers have empowered people to overcome challenges so they can live to their fullest potential.

At ForHealth Consulting™ at UMass Chan Medical School, we especially recognize our social workers who break barriers every day and deliver compassion, care, and support to the many people served by our clients and partners.

For well over a century, social workers have been at the forefront of some of the most important social advances in the United States and throughout the world, including the creation of a 40-hour work week, improved workplace safety, and critical social safety net programs to address poverty, hunger, and homelessness. They are committed to social justice, addressing challenges like economic inequality, racism, discrimination, trauma, and mental health crises so that all people and communities can thrive. 

Recognizing and respecting the dignity and strengths of all persons, social workers meet people where they are—empowering individuals, families, communities, and our society to overcome those hurdles that prevent them from achieving the goals they wish to attain. This includes advocating for equitable access to healthcare, education, and employment for individuals and families.

Social workers are the largest group of mental health care providers in the United States, providing counseling, therapy, and other forms of support to help people access the treatment they need to improve their well-being and attain their goals. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), social work is one of the fastest-growing professions in the United States.1 There are more than 700,000 professional social workers nationwide, but that number is expected to rise to almost 800,000 by 2030, per the BLS.

These helping professionals work everywhere — hospitals, mental health care facilities, child welfare agencies, schools, veteran centers, and in local, state, and federal government.

At ForHealth Consulting, we honor the critical work of our social work professionals whose work reflects the diversity of the profession and the unique needs of the organizations and people we support.

Those like Lee-Anne Jacobs, who recently retired after working tirelessly for over 25 years in roles that included being a behavioral case manager, where she worked to create a continuum of care to meet client needs and navigate care for the most difficult cases. She is known as the person whose astute clinical skills and understanding of an individual’s unique medical/behavioral/psychosocial needs allows her to put together the right resources for the most successful outcome. 

We recognize those experts who, as part of our behavioral health team, deliver the knowledge of clinical practice to innovate policy implementation, develop quality improvement initiatives, assist with challenges in member and patient care coordination, and monitor compliance to policies and regulations through site visits and collaboration with providers.

We are incredibly grateful to our assessment coaches in the Center on Child Well-Being & Trauma, supporting child-serving organizations to help build a statewide trauma-informed and responsive network for youth and their families.

We are so thankful for our Community Case Management social workers who work with medically fragile individuals and their families so that they can live in their homes and communities with individualized supports.

We are extremely appreciative of our Preadmission Screening and Resident Review social workers who work with individuals with serious mental illness to identify the most needed and effective services to meet their behavioral health needs.

And we have tremendous gratitude for our social workers in our Disability Review teams, bringing their vast clinical expertise and systems knowledge to ensure applicants can access critical behavioral health treatment and interventions.

Social workers have transformed millions of lives. Chances are over the course of your lifetime, you, a family member, or a friend have been helped by a social worker. So, as we celebrate Social Worker Month 2023, let us celebrate the critical work of these dedicated professionals and redouble our commitment to continue to break through the barriers that prevent, delay, or even reverse the progress made so that all people can attain their goals and thrive.