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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Monday, October 15, 2007

Socially Depressed

by capper

As some people might have figured out by reading my posts and my comments, I have a history of working in the human services field. I have worked in psychiatric hospitals, group homes, and social service agencies. I have worked in both the private and public sectors. I have worked with abused and neglected children, people with mental health issues, the developmentally delayed, and people with addictions. I have worked with clients as young as newborns (with cocaine in their systems) to geriatric patients.

So when I saw this article in yesterday's paper, I noticed that they listed social workers as being a career that suffers from the third highest degree of depression. (Here is the actual report that the article was based on.) That made me think about my experiences and of those people I have worked with, both clients and colleagues. I can understand how some social workers could be depressed. While working in foster care, I have seen things that have been done to a child that will haunt me the rest of my life. I have seen and experienced the stress of making decisions that someone else's life literally depends on, and second-guessing those decisions repeatedly. Fortunately for me, I had good teachers, bosses, and colleagues that helped me learn effective ways to cope with everything, and I am doing OK.

I could go on for days of the horrible conditions that I have seen people being forced to live in, about the delicate balance a social worker needs to try to meet the needs of the client, meet the bureaucratic regulations and paperwork, and not have enough time or resources to do the job as it really should be done. In last week's Shepherd Express, there is a story that touches on the resistance of the black community in dealing with mental illness, due to the stigma attached. That is true, but barely scratches the surface of the problems faced in all aspects of society, regardless of race, gender, age or socioeconomic background.

But what does depress me is while I am struggling to make my little corner of the world a better place (I learned long ago that I can't save the world by myself), taking on other people's problems and trying to help them through them, and trying to help them make the best life possible for themselves, all with very limited and insufficient resources, I also have to contend with people like Owen, James and others demanding that those resources be pared down even more, so that they can save $10 or $20 dollars a year.

So for those of you that are planning on going to this tax rally, to save your precious $20, please take a moment to think of those that need it more than you. For it is these people, the abused children, the mentally ill, the developmentally-delayed, and the elderly, that I will continue to struggle and fight for, in order to get them the help they need. And if that means we all have to cough up a few extra bucks, and the thought of that makes you upset, well, that's just too damn bad.

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