Press ganged: social care and the media

Keith Sellick looks at how the media treat social workers in the US

● Is the grass really greener on the other side? Browsing the New Social Worker website, I find that the tribulations of a newly qualified social worker are similar in the US as they are in the UK.

Just like here, it’s graduation time in the US and an article raises the thorny question of “When is it Okay to Say No During Field Practicum”?, which, I believe is a practice placement. There’s a few “Oh no…KABOOM!”s but, however divided we are by a common language, the issue seems the same: having difficult cases dumped on you as a student. And the advice is wise: “Sometimes NO may be the best answer.”

The rest of the online magazine has concerns that are recognisable to UK practitioners: computer systems, law and social work a critical look at the way mental health services treat ethnic minorities.

There is also a positive story from a newly qualified practitioner, Caitlin Moe, about how a project used radio, TV and newspapers to help more people to recruit mentors for children nationally. Most years the project recruited about 90,000 mentors in the year it used a media campaign with sympathetic coverage, 620,000 were recruited.

Moe ends with: “Media and other technology are revolutionising our society – why not take advantage of it as social workers to promote positive social change?”

Ironic that the UK is, even now, seen as a more caring society compared with the US, but you can’t imagine the national media backing a social work campaign to the same degree here.

➔ The New Social Worker is at

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