Social Service Workforce

Social Service Workers Address Ebola’s Widespread Social Impacts

Amy Bess and Alex CollinsThis post originally appeared on the Global Social Service Workforce Alliance website.

The number of confirmed cases of Ebola is quickly climbing past 6,200. On September 20, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched the historic UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), underscoring how a comprehensive, multisectoral response will be ever more critical as Ebola’s far-reaching health, security, political, economic, and social impacts on West Africa become more evident.

For every person infected, many others are affected—family members lose loved ones, children lose their parents, students lose teachers, employers lose key staff, and scores of responders have witnessed extreme suffering and work in exceedingly stressful environments. Read more »

Greater Support for the DRC’s Social Service Workers Leads to Better Care for Children

This post originally appeared on the Frontline Health Workers Coalition blog.

A young boy—we’ll call him Mani—was living on the streets of Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). He had no one to look after him, nowhere to go. He was just nine years old.

Mani’s situation is not unique. One quarter of all Congolese youth under age 18 are considered to be orphans and/or vulnerable children, according to the most recent Demographic and Health Survey. And nine out of ten don’t receive adequate financial, emotional, or other types of support. Read more »

Life after 2015: Keep Mental Health in Mind

Crystal NgI could use a vacation.

Don’t worry, boss! I’m not overly stressed, but everyone can benefit from an occasional break. In fact, many countries mandate that workers receive a minimum number of vacation days per year. The idea is that time off can contribute to maintaining or even improving worker productivity and satisfaction. Yet a recent Atlantic piece points out that mandatory vacation time does not necessarily correspond to workers’ satisfaction. Read more »

Overcoming Obstacles to Accessing Mental Health Services in Ethiopia

Malik JafferThis post was originally published on the IntraHealth International blog.

“What do you see as one major obstacle to people seeking treatment that may be needed, and what advice or suggestion do you have to help overcome that obstacle, whether for the person, family member, or practitioner?”

That was the main question posed to panelists at the Ethiopian Global Initiative’s Ethiopia Public Health Forum, the focus of which was “Beyond the Stigma of Mental Health and Substance Abuse.” On June 1, I attended this forum as a representative of IntraHealth International. Read more »

Picturing Our Work: Providing Support for Orphans and Vulnerable Children

Devika ChawlaThere are approximately 17.5 million orphans and vulnerable children in Nigeria. In fact, one in every ten households in Nigeria is providing care for an orphan. How can we ensure safety and support for children affected by HIV/AIDS and other children in need of protection from abuse, neglect, and exploitation?

Social service workers can play a crucial role in bridging the formal child protection system with the local community. But Nigeria, like many countries, is currently facing a severe shortage of these workers. Mapping and assessing the current social service workforce is the first step to strengthening this workforce; it provides a “snapshot” of the current system and allows a country to plan strategic strengthening. In January 2013, CapacityPlus initiated a gap analysis to assess challenges and opportunities in social work policy, practice, capacity, and education. Read more »

CapacityPlus’s Work Aligns with New US Government Action Plan on Children in Adversity

The US Government recently launched the first-ever Action Plan on Children in Adversity. The plan coordinates efforts across seven government agencies to address the needs of children in adversity, including those made vulnerable by HIV and AIDS, natural disasters, and violence.

The launch of the plan was celebrated at two events, the first hosted at the National Press Club for civil society partners and media and the second hosted at the White House. Both events highlighted that, as stated in the action plan, “building strong beginnings, putting family care first, and protecting children from abuse, neglect, exploitation, and violence” should be among any nation’s top priorities. Read more »

Social Workers Are at the Fault Lines of Society

Amy Bess“Social workers are placed at the fault lines of society,” claimed Professor Walter Lorenz, rector of the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano, at the closing ceremonies of the 2012 Joint World Conference on Social Work and Social Development last week.

At times of devastating health epidemics, financial crises, natural disasters, or war, we are very often quick to respond to immediate health, housing, and food security needs. Another often neglected area of response is taking into account and addressing the social consequences of these events: identifying those who will raise orphaned children, assessing impacts on mental health and well-being, supporting community cohesion, identifying and strengthening existing social networks that support vulnerable children, and, in general, ensuring a coordinated professional response to the social welfare needs of communities. Read more »

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