For Social Work Month this March, The Fortune Society is honored to celebrate our dedicated social work team. To highlight this year’s theme, Social Workers are Essential, we ask Jessica, a social worker in our Better Living Center, about her challenges and triumphs during COVID-19. Our mental health clinic, The Better Living Center (BLC), has uniquely designed services for individuals with mental health needs and incarceration histories. BLC promotes behavioral strategies to cope with the stressors of daily life and help manage anger, anxiety, and depression.
In her role as a Fortune social worker, Jessica enjoys seeing her clients setting challenging goals and succeeding. For many of her clients, mental health or justice history might impact their ability to reenter society after incarceration. With Jessica, clients can overcome mental health barriers to create positive change in their lives.
With COVID-19 and social distancing protocols, accessibility to mental health services has been challenging. The BLC has seen a higher influx of clients, with clients having increased mental health symptoms. For some clients, being able to come into Fortune’s office was a way to have stability and engage with the community.
Jessica said, “I think throughout [the past] twelve months, social workers have not only been dealing with COVID but also [an increased focus on] social injustice and racial injustice. The telehealth model can make it more challenging to process what’s going on with our clients.”
Some appointments have been conducted in-person, while other appointments are over-the-phone or Zoom. Not everyone has access to Zoom, leaving out the benefits of interacting with someone face to face. Additionally, group meetings are still only held on Zoom making it difficult for some clients to join.
However, after COVID-19 restrictions end and in-person sessions return to normal, Jessica sees a lot of opportunities for services to be more accessible. Before COVID-19, clients only met with social workers in person, and now they will have more opportunities to access help virtually.
Jessica sees how the past year has not only changed the ways we interact with clients, but also people’s perceptions of mental health. She sees a decline in the bias towards seeking therapy and how social workers are helping dismantle this misconception.