Retreat Celebrates Social Workers

(March 15, 2012) It’s that time of year again when we one again take the opportunity to recognize and celebrate social workers—both at the Brattleboro Retreat and around the nation. This year the theme is “Social Work Matters.” It’s true.

Here at the Retreat we have a total of 40 social workers on staff who provide direct inpatient and ambulatory care to patients when it matters most—when they’re scared, in crisis, confused, homeless, out of work, or simply looking for a better way to live their lives in the face of mental illness and addiction challenges.

Scores of other social workers hold positions at the Retreat in other areas such as administration, utilization review, marketing and communications and other key departments. They each bring their knowledge and passion to work each day to ensure that our doors stay open, our future is secure, and that people can continue to get the help they need.

The past twelve months have been an incredible year of change, growth, and opportunity for us as an organization. When I think about what we do as social workers I think about the change, growth and opportunity we strive to make possible in the lives of our patients and their families.  Social work matters because we have a unique privilege to work in a profession that allows us to help people find hope and new options for achieving their maximum potential—even in the midst of major life challenges and difficult circumstances.

As far as mental health and addiction goes, social work matters for lots of reasons. Here just are a few:

  • Nearly half the U.S. population will sometime in their lifetime experience a mental health or behavioral disorder that limits their social functioning.
  • According to the Surgeon General, 28 to 30 percent of the U.S. population has either a mental disorder of addictive disorder in any given year.
  • Social workers are the largest group of clinically trained mental health providers in the nation according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2006).
  • There can be many barriers to treatment for those seeking help including access, finances, stigma, fear of discrimination, and denial. Yet, people who receive appropriate mental and behavioral health treatment can lead satisfying, productive lives.

“One quality above all stands out in every social worker at the Brattleboro Retreat, and that is incredible compassion for every patient,” said Fritz Engstrom, MD, medical director at the Brattleboro Retreat. “That compassion drives our social workers to endeavor tirelessly to help every patient to be understood, to be heard, and to be guided to a better tomorrow. Thank you—it is a joy to partner with every one of our social workers.”

Along with Dr. Engstrom, I wish to acknowledge and thank every social worker here and across the country, and offer the reminder that, yes, you do make a difference!

--Gwynn Yandow, Director of Social Work Services