College of Arts and Sciences

A Call for Celebration: National Social Work Month  

Panelist meet virtually for NSW Day at UN

Panelist meet virtually for National Social Work Day at the UN

March marked a month-long celebration of the social work profession. Social workers around the world are recognized for the dedication, time, and empathy that they put into their work year-round. As the commemoration comes to an end, we take a look back on the history of National Social Work month and the achievements of the superhumans that make up the field.

History of National Social Work Month
National Social Work month was formally recognized by the White House under President Ronal Reagan in 1984 and continues to be a means of appreciation for the people who tirelessly work and strive for positive change. The purpose of social work month is to spotlight the impactful contributions that the profession brings and spread awareness of social issues. 

Each year, The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) chooses a theme to highlight during National Social Work Month. The theme for 2022 is "The Time is Right for Social Work." Social work has been around for decades, bringing progressive changes through advocacy of social issues and it continues to do so today. The theme is relevant always, but specifically now, calling attention to the need for social workers following the coronavirus pandemic that has accentuated social issues and inequalities, along with an increase in mental health issues, substance abuse and loneliness.

Who, What, Where?
Social work involves using evidence-based practices to promote change and development while engaging in an empathetic and empowering standpoint for the communities they serve. Social workers can be found across many areas of the workforce including healthcare facilities, schools, treatment centers for substance abuse, the criminal justice system and so much more. Though social workers may take on various forms, one thing they have in common is their desire to help others. Wherever they are, they can be counted on to help people navigate through the life challenges they encounter.

Social workers carry out their work in respect and commitment to the following core values:

  • Service.
  • Social justice.
  • Dignity and worth of the person.
  • Importance of human relationships.
  • Integrity.
  • Competence.

More information about the work social workers do can be found through the NASW website here.

National Social Work Day at The United Nations
Each year social workers and social work students from around the United States and world, meet at the UN with the purpose to increase social worker knowledge of global social issues and to increase awareness of the profession. 

This year marked the 38th Annual Social Work Day, which took place on March 17th. The event is typically held in person at the United Nations, however, this year it was held virtually. The theme of the conference was "Moving Toward Food Security for All: The Role of Social Work" which focused on the ways in which food insecurity has increased and the role social workers should play in resolving social problems that contribute to the food inequalities.

The conference was hosted by Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service, Rutgers University School of Social Work, and Monmouth University School of Social Work. All welcoming the main panelist which included: Dr. Seki Richemont who is a medical doctor specializing in food and nutrition security, Dr. Robin Sakina Mama, Dean of the School of Social Work at Monmouth University, and Hilary Weaver Professor and Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for the School of Social Work at the University of Buffalo. 

Dr. Widian Nicola DSW, LCSW, is a professor at Seton Hall University and president of the NASW New Jersey chapter. She notes the impact of the month:

Social work month commemorates and celebrates the way in which the profession – and by extension, all social workers - continues to commit itself to meeting the intersecting needs of our community. We gather to learn, connect, and challenge ourselves to remain steadfast in responding to the social issues of our day. For example, this year hundreds of social workers gathered at the 38th Annual Social Work Day at the United Nations to discuss the role of social work in addressing food insecurity. When we gather, we claim and galvanize the collective power we possess.

You can hear more from Dr. Nicola and the impactful work she does by subscribing to her podcast here.

Salute to Social Work
There are many ways to take part in National Social Work Month. Whether you are a social worker, know a social worker, or merely admire their work, things like using social media to promote the profession, participating in advocacy events, supporting colleagues, educating others to spread awareness or a simple thank you helps in the effort to support the value of social work. 

Everyone has their own way of acknowledging the month. Madison Urraro, LMSW, is a social worker at JFK middle school of the Comsewogue school district in Long Island, NY. She and her peers celebrated the month by purchasing social work themed t-shirts. Urraro reiterates the importance of National Social Work Month, "Being a social worker, I never expect anything in return from those I help. This month is really uplifting because it's nice to feel that sense of appreciation from others." 

The need for social workers is greater than ever, and as always, they will deliver with concern and empathy. The time is right for social work and the time is right for society to show the appreciation and value that they deserve. Though the month may have come to a close, the work continues for social workers, show your support year round by giving thanks and expressing gratitude!

Categories: Nation and World