In the community: social work
Social work is a field known for its heart for helping people, and NNU makes sure their students—both grad and undergrad—have opportunities to serve their community before entering the workforce.
“The social work department looks to serve our community on a larger scale as well as meet the needs of the people who are often marginalized, hurting and need to see the love of Christ in action,” said Scott Slater, Assistant Professor of Social Work. “We want our students to look for ways to help individuals and groups in the community grow and meet their potential, regardless of challenges they may face.”
Graduate students are specifically challenged to find and fill needs in their community through the Community Mental Health course, in which students organize and execute a community event.
“It is important for our students to be involved in the community and to advocate for the oppressed and often overlooked population”“Students choose projects based on the needs they see in their community,” said Janet Stellway, Assistant Professor of Social Work. “They have organized dental cleaning for low-income families, trainings for professionals on how to work with people who have mental health diagnosis, trainings for daycare workers on how to work with children who have behavioral problems, suicide prevention trainings in schools, etc.”
One way both grad and undergrad students are involved in the community is through their internships. Since social work is such a broad field, students have internships at a wide variety of agencies doing work such as case management, medical social work, substance abuse treatment, counseling, therapy groups, child welfare, crisis interventions, and much more.
MSW student Sierra Vice is interning with St. Luke’s Health Partners through their clinical integration program. “Being a part of something that could literally change the way Idahoans live is absolutely beautiful,” said Sierra. “There is an astronomical deficit of mental health services in the United States, especially in Idaho, and there is no movement towards opening community mental health centers. By integrating behavioral health into primary and specialty care settings, we are not only reducing the stigma of receiving mental health services, but we are also opening up services to a population who has been denied them for far to long.”
Besides filling a need in the Boise Valley, Sierra’s internship has also helped her grow as a professional and individual. “I have learned so much about the healthcare system and clinical social work that I feel prepared to enter the field when I graduate. With the help of incredible supervisors and a placement that has taught me so much, there is also a visible difference in the way I carry myself and interact with my peers and patients,” she added.
Social work students also participate in the community at the legislative level. During the Idaho National Association of Social Workers Legislative Advocacy Days each year, students and professors meet with legislators and advocate legislation that is relevant to social work. This year NNU won three first-place awards and two first-place trophies in the presentation competition coinciding with the event.
“It is important for our students to be involved in the community and to advocate for the oppressed and often overlooked population in our community,” commented Slater.
Sierra added, “Our goal should always be to help improve the lives of those around us. The hope that NNU social work students are providing to this community is beyond what most people imagine. Our calling has not been taken lightly.”