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Health Care Providers: Social Workers

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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:

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.
Date reviewed: September 2022