Have you ever received assistance from a social worker? You may have gotten social work support without even knowing it, as social work is a common background for many helping professions, including the Support Navigators at Healthy365. The Bureau of Labor Statistics defines the role of a social worker as a way to “help people solve and cope with problems in their everyday lives” and this is exactly what our Support Navigators offer to local Hancock County residents!

What is Social Work Month?

March is Social Work Month, and according to the National Association of Social Workers, this annual campaign is a time to inform the public, policymakers, and legislators about the myriad of services social workers provide in sectors like hospitals, schools, social service agencies, mental health centers and at community centers like Healthy365. 

“The Healthy365 Connection Center is rooted in the core values and ethics of social work practice,” explained Amanda Everidge, Director of Community Health Improvement. “Support navigation is designed to meet individuals where they are in their journey and to treat each client with dignity and respect.” Ever since the first social work class was offered in 1898 at Columbia University, individuals like our local Support Navigators have led the way developing organizations and resources to serve people in need. 

What does social work education look like?

Most universities offer social work as an undergraduate major, and graduate degrees can include a master (MSW), and a doctorate (DSW) or PhD. As Support Navigator Christina DeWitt, MSW, LSW, explained, training and education “may include a foundation in social work provided by a Master’s degree program, which equips navigators with theory and practical skills to become an effective advocate for patients.” 

DeWitt holds a Master’s of Social Work and is a Licensed Social Worker, saying, “I utilize my social work degree in every contact with patients, community members, and stakeholders.”  Social work is also one of the fastest growing professions in our country, with almost 720,000 professional social workers currently in the U.S. labor force, and an expected rise to more than 800,000 by 2030, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What type of skills do social workers use?

In addition to the hard skills of training and education, the soft skills that social workers acquire during their professional experiences help them learn how to treat clients with compassion and grace. For example, both DeWitt and her fellow Support Navigator Sarah House worked in the Department of Child Services before joining the Healthy365 team, which laid a great foundation for the local connections they make every day at Healthy365. 

“As Support Navigators, we are responsible for evaluating the needs of individuals, families, and children to identify the services needed, and create a plan to provide the best care possible,” said DeWitt. She reports that the top skills she uses as a Support Navigator include:

  • “Compassion, especially when clients are experiencing complex issues
  • Exceptional listening skills, to understand what patients need and develop a plan that will work with them.
  • Organizational skills, to manage all the moving parts of patient treatment planning and care
  • And Cultural competence, to understand and value clients’ unique perspectives”

How does social work support our community?

Offering support to local residents in need doesn’t just support those families, but it improves the community at large. “We highly value the strong relationships built with our community partners,” said Everidge. “It is these partnerships that allow us to move the needle not just for our clients but for our community as a whole. It is our goal to be a safe and inviting space where individuals can receive the support and care that they deserve, regardless of the challenges that they are facing.”

If you are in need of assistance from one of our Support Navigators, we would love to offer a confidential listening ear and connect you with helpful resources. Contact us today at 317-468-4231 or visit our local Connection Center to learn more about our services!