Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Twelve Days of Christmas - Social Work Edition

Like absolutely everyone else, those of us in social work often find the days leading up to Christmas to be particularly hectic.  It can be a hard time of year for many of our clients, so they may need additional support.  There are many charitable goings-on that we may be involved in, and most of us hope to get a couple days off with our own families.

Here's a little ditty to give you an idea of what the holiday rush looks like for us.  Feel free to sing along!  (I'm not typing out the verses over and over, you all know how it goes!)

Twelve grocery gift cards

Eleven overdue assessments  

Ten client Christmas parties  

Nine home visits 

Eight food hamper deliveries  

Seven flu shot clinics    

Six church hall turkey dinners  

Five volunteers!!!!!    (we love our volunteers)

Four donated toy drives     

Three office potlucks  

Two emergency room visits    

And one last minute crisis call!


Monday, December 17, 2012

Mental Illness and Violence

Do we need more funding for mental health services in this world?  YES.

Does access to early identification and early intervention programs need to be improved?  YES.

Does having a mental illness mean a person will become violent?  NO.

Does a violent act necessarily indicate that the perpetrator had a mental illness?  NO.  

Does speculating in the media about a person's mental health help anything?  NO.  

All it does is create fear and increase the stigma around people with mental health issues.  This is the opposite of what needs to happen to get people help and care, and does nothing to protect victims of potential future incidents.

In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, it will be important to try to unlock the motives of the perpetrator, and discuss how this tragedy may have been prevented.  This will be an important part of the healing process for that community.  But since the gunman is gone, we will never really know the answers.  I hope that all this focus on the availability of mental health services might result in some positive actions.  But as with the lag in changes to gun control despite many mass killings in North America in the past few years, I have sincere doubts that this will happen.

What do you think about the assumptions and discussions about mental health in the news right now?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Hierarchy of Care

Yesterday I took a client to a doctors appointment.  We arrived about 5 minutes before the appointment time, but as with most doctors this one was running late.  No biggie.  After being there about 25 minutes, we and one other gentleman are the last in the waiting room.  The doc calls the other guy in and tells us "there will be no more waiting, I am missing my lunch hour".  I told him I couldn't continue to wait over his lunch time, so he let the other guy hanging out to dry and took us instead.

I told him I appreciated him seeing my client first, and he told me that next time we should not expect our appointment to be on time.  I told him I was okay with waiting 20 minutes or so and try to account for this in my scheduling, but I have other appointments to get to as well.  So he said that when I am bringing a client to see him I should not book any appointments for the rest of the day.  Because he might have to fit in patients who are suicidal, or in crisis.  WHAT DOES HE THINK I DO ALL DAY????!?!?!!?

I get that doctors are busy.  Their job is important, and I have certainly been appreciative when they will rearrange their schedule to see one of my clients who is in crisis or suicidal or whatever.  But why is his schedule so much more important than mine so that he can tell me how to arrange my day, and how to do my job?  I have other people to see too!  And don't expect me to feel sorry that your lunch will be delayed when I had to eat a sandwich in my car while making the 40 kilometer trip to pick up this woman whom he will now see for 5 minutes.   I may have been more sympathetic if he hadn't been so rude about it.  An over-inflated sense of entitlement won't get you far with me.