Health Care Providers: Social Workers
What Is Social Work?
Social work is a profession that helps people improve their well-being. It helps people develop skills and use their own resources and those of the community to solve problems.
What Is a Social Worker?
Social workers are mental health providers. They work with individuals, families, groups, and communities. They support people in need, including those dealing with:
- educational problems
- grief and loss
- mental illness
- physical illness
Why Would Someone Need One?
A social worker can provide:
- support or counseling for a new medical diagnosis or a hospitalization
- help for parents and caregivers communicating with their child’s medical team
- connections to resources such as transportation, language services, therapy services, and disease-specific support
- financial counseling
- crisis intervention
- information on government programs such as WIC, SNAP, Medicaid, and Social Security
- help communicating with schools or employers
- support for someone who feels unsafe
- help finding a medical equipment or home health agency
- help with housing concerns and food insecurity
- help during a mental health crisis
- compassionate care during end of life
- information about children’s and families’ health care rights and responsibilities
What Is Their Training?
Social workers have college and advanced degrees in the field of social work, which includes:
- 4 years at a college or university to earn a bachelor’s degree
- a master’s (MSW) or doctorate (DSW) degree, or a PhD in social work, depending on the position
Good to Know
The different types of social workers include:
- Substance abuse social workers: They work in hospitals and rehabilitation facilities to help people who are struggling with addiction, substance abuse, or mental health problems.
- Community social workers: They plan, coordinate, and organize efforts to help specific local populations and work with community-based nonprofit organizations.
- Hospice and palliative care social workers: They help those in need during a family member’s serious illness or the time leading up to death.
- Military and veterans social workers: They help soldiers work through their feelings and adjust to life and family outside of war zones.
- Child, family, and school social workers: They help kids who have been abused and can help the parents of a child who is suffering from a mental illness.
- Psychiatric social workers: They offer therapy, check the mental health of their patients, and work with the patient’s family. They can help people find support groups and understand what treatment is available.
- Health care social workers: They provide help with emotional, physical, and financial hardships that can come with serious medical conditions.
- Getting Support When Your Child Has Special Health Care Needs
- Balancing Schoolwork and Hospital Stays
- Your Baby's Care Team in the NICU
- Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Helping Your Child Heal After Trauma
- Palliative Care
- Finding Respite Care