The University of South Carolina College of Social Work is helping celebrate this year’s Social Work Month throughout March with the theme “Social Workers are Essential” to highlight the invaluable contributions of social workers, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, social work is one of the fastest growing professions in the United States. There are approximately 700,000 professional social workers in the U.S., but that number is expected to rise to more than 800,000 by 2029.
“Social workers essential to society because a healthy society depends on the health of its members, and social workers are trained to help in all of the important areas of one’s life,” says alum Debbie Ennis, MSW ‘90.
Social work has made significant contributions to our nation. Social workers such as social reformer Jane Addams, former Labor Secretary Frances Perkins, and civil rights leaders, including E. Franklin Frazier and Whitney Young Jr. Social workers are found throughout society in areas such as mental health, substance use disorder, military and veterans, schools, and community organizations. They can also be found in unexpected areas, such as alums George Appenzeller, MSW ’75, in climate change, and Tish Guerin, MSW ’10, formerly of the National Football League’s Carolina Panthers.
Social workers continue to be on the frontlines along with doctors, nurses, and other essential employees during COVID-19. For example, alum Katherine Watts, MSW ’01, supervises 40 social workers at Lexington (South Carolina) Medical Center. Her team serves as the bridge between COVID-19 patients and their families while providing support and updates as part of interdisciplinary teams.
Please help the College of Social Work is helping us recognize all social workers who work to improve the lives of individuals, families and communities. During the month, we will spotlight some of our alums in a variety of fields and learn why they believe social workers are essential.