Social Worker’s TV Show Raises Public Awareness of Mental Health
“I was doing direct care working at a psychiatric hospital,” said Berelowitz, MSW, LMSW. “I just found there was so much information lacking for families coming in and the patients themselves needed a lot of education.”
So what did Berelowitz do? The New York University School of Social Work graduate launched a New York City cable public access program —”Talk Therapy Television” — to educate the public about mental health issues and how to find care for themselves and loved ones.
As of mid March four episodes of “Talk Therapy Television” had aired and three more segments were in the works. Guests have included some prestigious mental health professionals, including Commissioner of the New York State Office of Mental Health Michael Hogan and Dr. Frances Brisbane, dean of the Stony Brook University School of Social Welfare.
“Talk Therapy Television” is shown on Queens Public Television and Brooklyn Community Access Television, Berelowitz said. There are about a million viewers in this market.
Last year, 10.6 million Americans said their need for mental health care went unmet, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
The main aim of “Talk Therapy Television” is to encourage more people to seek mental health care and boost the amount of mental health services available to the public, Berelowitz said. The show also raises awareness of the role social workers play in helping people get good mental health care.
Berelowitz, who is a National Association of Social Workers member, urges other social workers create public access television programs to highlight what they do. SocialWorkersSpeak.org has already done features on two New Jersey social workers who run such programs — Dr. Ginny Klein and Valerie Persaud, MSW.
Berelowitz offered these tips on how to create your own social worker television program:
- Find out which cable company runs public access channels in your neighborhood and if they have a time slot available. Some states have more public access channels than others.
- Once you locate a public access channel find out how to apply for a slot and what type of technical specifications the station requires. For instance, some stations want shows recorded on DVD, mini DVD or videotape.
- Consider doing a one-time social work television special. That way you can test whether being a producer and host of a longer running television program is what you really want to do.
- If you want to get more serious and use studio cameras and other equipment you may have to take a training class at a station, which sometimes cost a few dollars. Public access stations offer these classes so consumers don’t break their equipment.
- To find guests reach out to colleagues and other social work professionals in your expertise area. Social workers already make good television show guests because many are experts who do presentations or teach classes. There are also many videos produced by state health departments that social workers can use on their programs.