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News Items – May 20, 2020

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Debra Riggs is the executive director of NASW-VA; David Lewis and Heather Stone are members:
Debra Riggs column: Unrecognized heroes adapt mental health services in a COVID-19 era
Richmond Times-Dispatch
Few people realize that social work is the largest behavioral health profession in America. Most of the public has no idea what social workers do and, granted, the field has diverse specialties, so this is understandable. But social workers provide vital services in our schools, hospitals, government agencies, health clinics, veteran facilities, addiction centers, homes for the seriously mentally ill and more. To the knowledgeable, they are — as Gov. Ralph Northam rightly labeled them early in this pandemic — “essential workers.”

Rebekah Gewirtz is the executive director of NASW-MA
Innovation will help us rebuild
Boston Globe
Rebekah Gewirtz is the executive director of the Massachusetts chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.: The current crisis is exposing the cracks — or rather, craters — in our social welfare system. Massachusetts is one of the wealthiest states in the nation, yet far too many already struggle to meet their most basic needs. These problems have been exacerbated by COVID-19. We must immediately prioritize rebuilding our social safety net. This kind of systemic change is possible in Massachusetts. We’ve done it before and we must rise to meet the challenge again in bold ways.”

Sonya Richardson is a member:
[Video] Mental distress skyrocketing across the world amid pandemic
The reporter spoke with UNC-Charlotte School of Social Work’s Sonya Richardson about a partnership which is training mental healthcare providers in mental health issues in the wake of COVID-19.

Bill Lamb is a member:
NC DHHS recommends testing all in long-term facilities for COVID-19, but questions remain
North Carolina Health News
Advocates for older people, such as Bill Lamb, former executive director of Friends of Residents in Long Term Care, as well as some local health officials, were still perusing the state’s announcement afterward for details. “‘Guidance’ is not a mandate,“  Lamb said in an email, expressing frustration after taking, along with Adam Sholar, head of the state’s nursing home trade association, a pro-testing message to the Governor’s Advisory Council on Aging last week.

Social Workers Adapt to Hospice Care In a Pandemic
Hospice News
The ongoing social isolation and distancing measures to reduce spread of the coronavirus pandemic has challenged a vital element of social and psychosocial services in the realm of hospice care. As the outbreak continues impacting communities throughout the nation, hospice social workers have become adaptive to continue serving patients and families in need.

National Association of Social Workers NJ: Institutional Residents Among the Most Vulnerable During the COVID-19 Crisis
P&T Community
While much attention has been paid to the devastating impact of COVID-19 in long-term care facilities and corrections facilities across the state of New Jersey, NASW-NJ reports that many of the most vulnerable individuals continue to be exposed. In state-run psychiatric hospitals and developmental centers, infection and death rates are significantly higher than the rates amongst the state’s total population.

Jolene Hui is the membership director for NASW-CA:
‘How Can I Help You?’ Schools Try To Reach Students Struggling With Mental Health During Coronavirus
I spoke with representatives from national and state associations of school psychologists, counselors, and social workers about what they and their members have noticed, too. Jolene Hui with the California chapter of the National Association of Social Workers said members of her organization report that “students who were normally engaging just aren’t anymore.” She thinks the distance plays a big role in that.

Anthony Rizzuto and Jamie Bogenshutz are members:
Drug Rehabs Help Battle Coronavirus Pandemic While Still Facing The Opioid Crisis
Long Island Press
“For people in the grip of active addictions, usage escalated,” says Anthony Rizzuto, LMSW, CASAC and director of provider relations at Seafield Center in Westhampton Beach. “We were seeing more overdoses, more people trying to get into treatment, and the availability of treatment beds lessened. In the world of recovery, a lot of people find comfort and solace with fellowship and meetings. Those had been taken away as well.”

Jeffrey Frank is a member:
A Sarasota Social Worker Is Offering Free Virtual Therapy for Essential Workers
Sarasota Magazine
Licensed clinical social worker Jeffery Frank owns a private practice in Sarasota, and is one of several therapists participating in Coronavirus Online Therapy, a pending nonprofit that provides free or reduced-cost therapy sessions to essential workers nationwide. The service is run entirely by volunteers, with therapists devoting their time and expertise to the cause. “Essential workers can qualify for sessions without having to worry about insurance or financial status,” says Frank. “We want help to be accessible and affordable for everyone.”

Robin Capers is a member:
Sioux City clinical social worker offers strategies to cope with COVID-19 pandemic
Sioux City Journal
Robin Capers, a licensed clinical social worker who owns Family Wellness Associates in Sioux City, said the changes in routine, financial unease and fear of the unknown brought about by the global COVID-19 pandemic have left many Siouxlanders feeling helpless and anxious. “This is an unusual situation. This isn’t something that we have prepared for,” said Capers, who has noted an uptick in patients seeking therapeutic services from her practice amid the pandemic.

Beth Levy-Merlin is a member:
[Video] NJ Therapists Offer Free Zoom Sessions To First Responders, Families
Licensed clinical social worker Beth Levy-Merlin heard the call for help. “People are suffering. Everybody’s anxious,” she said. All 15 therapists at her practice, Roseland Psychotherapy Associates, are now offering a free 45-minute Zoom therapy session to any first responder and their families. Levy-Merlin says the idea came out of a conversation with her husband. Dr. Mark Merlin runs a nonprofit group of ER physicians that assist on emergency calls.

Frank Palmieri is a member:
Coronavirus leaves athletic routines scrambled
Florida Times-Union
“From a clinical standpoint, the world is turned upside down,” Frank Palmieri, a licensed clinical social worker, said. Palmieri has been walking more and doing more yard work with his free time and doing many of his professional tasks by video conference. But he understands how the coronavirus is a constant presence in the back of everybody’s mind. “We’re constantly aware of the danger of something being wrong. The whole situation can be depressing. There’s a constant drumbeat about what we have to be doing with schools, work and staying apart. That can make people confused and disoriented,” he said.

Rebecca Mansfield is a member:
Opioid overdoses are silently killing thousands, while coronavirus steals the spotlight
But what exactly is it about this time that’s leading more people to use? Rebecca Mansfield, a licensed clinical social worker and owner of counseling services of Jacksonville, believes addicts are rationalizing drug use, asking the question, ‘What more could go wrong?’ “What I have seen is not so much the fear of the illness, which that has been there, but the financial repercussions,” she said.

Alynn Schmitt-McManus is a member:
‘I Can’t Turn My Brain Off': PTSD and Burnout Threaten Medical Workers
The New York Times
Many besieged health care workers are exhibiting what Alynn Schmitt McManus, a St. Louis-based clinical social worker, calls “betrayal trauma.” “They feel overwhelmed and abandoned” by fire chiefs who, she said, rarely acknowledge the newly relentless demands of the job. Many paramedics, she added, are “aggressive and depressed. They are so committed to the work, they are such good human beings, but they feel so compromised now.”

Cara Allen is a member:
Opinion: Let’s Not Forget This Pandemic Is Hard on Our Kids Too
Times of San Diego
As a clinical social worker who has worked extensively in bereavement for the past 20 years, I can tell you — there’s no right way to do this. As we watch the COVID-19 crisis unfold across the world and within our own communities, we are all grieving, stressed and feeling isolated from the ones we love. You are not alone and there is no one right way to process your pain as an individual, a family, or a child.

Faith Thomas-Lewis is a member:
Durham mother-daughter duo earn master’s degrees from North Carolina Central University in same year
North Carolina Central University is giving spring graduates the option of walking in the winter ceremony next December. A mom and daughter from Durham will gladly take that opportunity to celebrate after working so hard to achieve their goals, together. Shamonna Thomas and daughter Faith Thomas-Lewis both recently completed master’s programs at NCCU. “It has been awesome,” said Shamonna. “We actually defended our master’s programs on the same day. She did that morning and I did that afternoon so she was downstairs rooting for me.”

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