“Our mental health is important as well,” a social worker says
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The pandemic has changed views on mental health, with 82% of Americans now saying mental health is just as important as physical health, up from 68% in 2018, according to a survey. But even before the pandemic, many workers in high-stress jobs have struggled with prioritizing their own mental health. Jasmine Bolden, a macro social worker, sheds light on that subject.
“When I worked on a micro level, and that’s just direct care, I was overwhelmed a lot,” said Bolden, who lives in Baltimore. Back then, the burnout and stress were high. It’s different now that she’s switched to the macro level, where her work is more on a community and national level, dealing with grants and stimulus payments for families.
“I think when you’re helping people, sometimes we forget that we have our own issues to go through, you know? Our mental health is important as well. … The work-life balance is a lot better” working on the macro level, she said.
But even with the switch, Bolden said there are lots of areas that need to be addressed in social work, like being overworked and underpaid.
“We get our license, and then we get into the field, and jobs only want to pay 45,000 a year, which we know that 45,000 a year is not enough to get you through life,” she said.
“Sometimes you can get 45 clients, and 45 clients and getting paid $100 a session, it doesn’t equate to the amount of time you’re putting in,” she said. “And it takes a lot of your time. It takes away from the time that you can spend with your family, your personal self care.”
The high demand in caring for people with different mental health issues coupled with too many cases warrants a conversation about social workers getting paid more, Bolden said.
Although Bolden has just started her career in macro social work, she might not stay in the profession forever.
“I like helping people, but I also feel like with helping people, there are different platforms that you can do that on,” she said.
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