Supporting our local social workers

Dear Editor,

March is Social Work Month, and as faculty in Ohio University Eastern’s Social Work Program, we’re excited to celebrate the efforts and impact of social workers in our communities and around the world. The theme for this year’s celebration is “Empowering Social Workers.” One way to do this is to increase their salaries.

Our nation needs social workers more than ever. The United States is grappling with an opioid addiction crisis that has cut across all regions, races, and economic levels. Homelessness is on the rise, according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness. And, according to the Centers for Disease Control, deaths by suicide rose in 2021 after declining the previous two years.

Social workers are people who enter the profession because they truly want to help others. And, they are uniquely qualified to handle these societal troubles. They go through years of education, training, and supervision so they can do the delicate, but important work of meeting people where they are and helping them achieve their goals.

Social workers are trained to work in holistic ways, assisting not just individuals but their entire families, communities, and even the larger society at large–especially if laws and regulations must be changed to benefit people. You will find social workers everywhere — in hospitals, schools, local, state, and federal government, social service agencies, corporations, and veterans centers, too.

Social workers trained at Ohio University Eastern have contributed to the local area in important ways, supporting children, families, and communities through their work with the Belmont, Harrison, and Monroe Children Service Agencies, Area Agency on Aging Region 9, Cedar Ridge Behavioral Health Services, Crossroads Counseling Services, Student Services of Belmont County, Mental Health and Recovery Board of Belmont/Harrison/Monroe Counties, and local schools and nonprofits of all sizes. OHIO Eastern’s social work students benefit from a robust network of local partners who provide valuable mentorship and internship opportunities, and we are grateful for their support of our students.

The demand for social workers is reflected in the statistics — the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates the field will grow exponentially. There will be more than 782,000 social workers in the United States by 2030, and according to BLS. “Overall employment of social workers is projected to grow 7 percent from 2022 to 2032, faster than the average for all occupations,” the BLS states on its website.

It is important for the public to support legislation and initiatives that empower and support the social work profession and improve their bottom line. This includes the Improving Access to Mental Health Act, student loan debt relief, and social work safety legislation.

During Social Work Month and beyond, we urge you to learn more about the profession, thank the social workers in your life, and do what you can do to help assist them in their positive, life-affirming work.

And if you’re interested in pursuing a career in social work, please reach out. This is a uniquely important time to join a profession dedicated to service, social justice, and dignity and respect for all.

Dr. Warren Galbreath

Dr. Richard W. Greenlee

Professor Tracy A. Pritchard, LISW-S

Social Work Faculty

Ohio University Eastern

St. Clairsville


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