Social workers can help alleviate problems

February 1, 2013

I agree that more psychiatrists and psychologists are essential to comprehensive mental health care for Sussex County. In addition to their expertise in talk therapy, psychiatrists can prescribe medication often needed for traumatized children and psychologists are trained to assess the impact of trauma on child and adolescent development which helps parents and teachers address it.

However, taxpayers and legislators would do well to consider filling some of Sussex's mental health resource gap with licensed, master level social workers. Social workers are effective mental health practitioners. Since the cost of their education and their on-going employment is so much less than that of MD's and Ph.D.'s, investing at least some of the suggested financial support in social workers would help more families in need.

Including social workers in the financial formula would help Sussex County extend the reach of its mental health service system and help the county sustain that expansion going forward without compromising care.

Professional, licensed social workers offer a wide range of effective service.  In addition to recovery-oriented talk therapies, anger management and grief counseling for children and families dealing with trauma and stress disorders, they can specialize in home and school-based assessments of trauma-related behaviors. Social workers are trained to observe children in their everyday, social interactions so both troubled behavior and practical recommendations become clearer.

Social workers conduct groups for survivors, siblings, parents and grandparents. They are skilled at intervening during and after a crisis situation.  Social workers offer community-based educational and skill building workshops that teach adult care givers practical methods to support children.

Sussex County would do well to recognize that social workers and their paraprofessional, case associates will extend effectively the clinical reach of their highly regarded professional colleagues who are psychiatrists and psychologists.

Kathleen McGlade, Ph.D.

PS I recently relocated to Sussex County from New York City where I was a licensed clinical social worker and the associate executive vice president of the largest social service and mental health agency.  I have extensive experience in planning and managing services for child and family survivors of sexual abuse and other trauma.

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