Let’s talk about social workers. In many ways, they are the scaffolding that holds up our society. They show up every day for the people they care for, and sadly, they often go unnoticed and unappreciated. We love our social workers at FosterAdopt Connect, and couldn’t do any of the work we do without them. So, in the spirit of National Social Worker Appreciation Month, here are five ideas of ways you can show your appreciation and support for the social workers in your life, be they friends, family, or coworkers.
A Night/Weekend Off
Social work can be exhausting, and no matter how passionate a person is about their work, burnout is a real risk. If you know a social worker who could use a break, going out of your way to set up a special “them day” could be just what they need. If they have kids, offer to watch them overnight. Maybe get them a gift card for a massage or spa day. You could even cook for them if they would be more interested in having some social interaction than being alone. Anything that will let them be free of responsibilities for a period and catch a breath (or two).
Notes of Encouragement
What’s better than receiving a heartfelt note about how awesome you are? Receiving a whole box of them! You can really go above and beyond by getting the contact information of important people in their life and having them write/send you their thoughts about the person and the work they do. Not only will it be a huge boost when they first receive the notes, but they can go to that box and pull one out any time they are feeling down or discouraged in the future.
Often, social workers are so focused on caring for others that they forget to care for themselves. Find out what gives them that little serotonin boost. Bath bombs, candles, movie tickets, a favorite treat, a gift card to that special BBQ spot. It doesn’t have to be extravagant, but it should be something that reminds them that you care deeply for them and that they should care about themselves as well.
Social workers are required by law to honor the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). This law protects sensitive client information from being disclosed without their consent and is an essential part of the job. Because of this, social workers often can’t share information about their cases with anyone outside the case, which can be difficult for them when they are forced to internalize or compartmentalize heavy circumstances. Giving them the benefit of the doubt when they choose not to disclose information, while offering your general support, will help you avoid adding more pressure or tension than they are already experiencing.
Maybe the best way that you can support the social worker in your life is just being present. Make sure that they know you are always available to chat if they need to vent or seek support. And because reaching out can be hard, be proactive by touching base with them to check in and share what is going on with you as well. It’s easy for social workers to isolate when they are overwhelmed with their workload or a particularly heavy case. Letting them know that you’re there, no matter what, can help break that downward spiral of isolation and overwhelm.
To any social workers reading this, we sincerely appreciate everything that you do. You’re worth celebrating, not only this month, but all year long!