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News Items – August 19, 2014

rwilliamsDepression Can Make Parkinson’s Disease Worse
New York Magazine
Key to treatment is understanding that the symptoms aren’t just physical. “Depression can go hand-in-hand with Parkinson’s,” said Jessie Katz, a social worker at the Movement Disorders Center at UNC Chapel Hill, which is a NPF facility. “It’s been found that over 50 percent of people with Parkinson’s experience some form of depression. And that can be because of the daily challenges of coping with chronic illness, but it’s also the result of physiological changes in the brain.” (Parkinson’s can affect the levels of dopamine and other chemicals in the brain, leading to changes in mood.)

Police shootings demonstrate need for social workers to press for reforms
Recent, highly publicized cases of police using deadly force against people of color, including the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. on Aug. 9, underscore the need for the social work profession to call for reforms in the nation’s law enforcement systems. This issue is important for the profession, which has a long history of working to end all vestiges of institutional racism and racial disparities, including in law enforcement.

Ferguson: Gentrification and its discontents
Al-Jazeera America
Steve Burghardt, professor of social work at the Hunter College School of Social Work, told Al Jazeera, “Ferguson is something that can happen in any one of a hundred places around the country. It’s the nature of the daily interaction between a white power structure and a disenfranchised populace.”

Trooper to stay ‘as long as it takes’ in riot-hit US town
Yahoo! News
Social worker Tia Mannierre stressed that “injustice is a big problem in a community.” “We really have to set an example for the youth, we really have to do better for the community to come together and just make sure that these officers are held accountable for their actions because it’s not okay for you to just shoot someone in cold blood for absolutely no reason at all,” she said.

Katheryn Brewer is a member:
Translating Neuroscience into Policy and Practice for At-Risk Children, with Dr. Jack Shonkoff
Social Work Helper
A doctoral candidate at the Columbia School of Social Work (CSSW), Kathryne (Kat) Brewer and I were pleased to have the chance to interview Dr. Shonkoff about the initiative for CSSW’s podcast program, Social Work Matters. The night before we recorded the episode, Dr. Shonkoff had delivered our School’s 2014 Lucille N. Austin Lecture, in which he talked about the discovery that children who are exposed to high levels of stress through abuse or neglect have trouble developing the circuitry in the brain (the pre-frontal cortex) necessary for controlling their impulses and solving challenges—the “executive functions” that would help them succeed in adulthood. He also spoke about ways this could be addressed through research, policy and practice.

On Getting Help: A Wild Therapist Appears!
In contrast to psychologists, psychiatrists, and nurses, social workers are oriented to social justice and a perspective we call “person-in-environment.” This perspective looks at anyone needing help as part of a larger system within a larger system. A person is in family within a community that’s part of a state with a culture and social expectations. As a result, social workers will work on multiple levels of care. We cannot write scripts or do testing.

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