March marks Social Work Month, which is a time to recognize and celebrate the amazing work social workers do for patients and families. The theme for this year’s Social Work Month is, “The Time is Right for Social Work.” Read the proclamation signed by Dr. Marc Gorelick, Children’s Minnesota president and CEO, to learn more about this year’s theme.
As kid experts, our social workers live our values every day, and we are so thankful for them. To celebrate our very own social work team, we sat down with Hannah Kuhne, MSW, LGSW, social worker on the after-hours team in St. Paul; and Teasha Lightfoot, LGSW, social worker on the after-hours team in Minneapolis, to learn more about their work and what this year’s theme means to them.
Get to know Teasha and Hannah!
Tell us what this year’s Social Work Month theme means to you.
The theme “The Time is Right for Social Work” is a perfect description for this time as the mental health need is so great for children, adolescents and adults. As a social worker, I feel social workers are able to join with mental health providers to help meet these needs.
Throughout the world, there are multiple crisis that are so impactful to our communities. They can cause trauma or secondary trauma for our patients who are already in the hospital for difficult or stressful medical or mental health reasons. Our patients come from all over the world, different classes, different races, different gender identifies, different religions and are all so unique in their own way. This means that with each new crisis there are patients that are worrying and mourning about themselves or their loved ones. This is the time for social workers to hold space, wherever they are located, whatever capacity in which they practice social work to truly see our families and patients and their current life circumstances.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
The most rewarding part of being a social worker is watching patients succeed of their own volition. Providing resources is only the first step, but it is truly up to the patient to utilize those resources and supports to heal, succeed and thrive. Our role is simply one of encouragement – our patients do the rest. I am in awe of the people I work with and am honored to witness their healing process.
The most rewarding part of my job is to help a family during their time of need and help lessen the stressors they have at that time.
What do you want your colleagues, patients and families to know about the work you do?
I would like my colleagues, patients, and families to know I show up with the intention to help.
The support that people provide to social workers and those who work in the hospital is so important, appreciated and never taken for granted. Asking, “How was your day at work?” is a loaded question for someone who works in mental health crisis or in the hospital, and can be a hard question to answer. The trauma, the grief and the space that is being held every day is hard to explain and can be overwhelming.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed your day-to-day work life, and how have you been able to overcome these challenges?
There have been a few challenges and changes during COVID-19 that have been noticeable. Our children and teens who come in to the emergency department (ED) for mental health crisis lately have been talking about the impact of being isolated, restricted access to resources, inability to focus during online school and/or losses in their community as a result of COVID. For the young people in the community who are already struggling with their mental health, this additional impact of COVID has increased their stressors and has resulted in worsened mental health.
Secondly, in the ED we work closely with the medical staff and frequently respond to medical traumas to support family members while medical staff provides care to their child. There have been an increase in medical traumas resulting of COVID-19 symptoms and witnessing the stress and burnout among our colleagues has been a challenge, and one that social work works to provide emotional support for regularly.
COVID-19 has changed my day to day work life by having to use extra precaution when meeting with families and being mindful of how my outside activities can put patients/families at risk. I have been personally able to overcome these challenges by not going in to the work space ill and getting tested soon as medically recommended to keep others around me healthy.
This year’s Social Work Month theme is spot on, the time is right for social work! Join us in thanking and celebrating all of our dedicated, compassionate and amazing social workers.