Most social workers possess a strong desire to help improve people's lives. In schools, for instance, they serve as a link between students' families and school authorities.
Social workers generally work to ensure people cope with stress, emotional and economic problems. They usually spend most of the time in offices, schools or residential facilities. While this is a noble profession, it has its downside. Understaffing and large caseloads can put pressure on social workers, resulting in adverse effects on their personal lives.
Being a social worker can be gratifying because you have dedicated your life to making a difference in other people's lives.
Your work involves helping individuals, groups or communities to restore or boost the capacity for social functioning. You solve problems and promote social change for the greater good of society. A social worker counsels individuals, families and communities on how to cope with stresses of everyday life.
Social worker clients benefits from their skills by working through their economic and social challenges. People with serious mental and physical disability, substance abuse problems or people with serious domestic conflict, sometimes involving child or spousal abuse can work through their problems with the help of a social worker and restore their lives.
While it is satisfying, being a social worker can be emotionally and energy-sapping.
A research carried out in the British Association of Social Workers in 2010 found that child protection experts were increasingly suffering from mental and emotional instability because of the pressure of social work. A 2003 study by Darcy Siebert, an associate professor at North Carolina at Chapel Hill, also found 12 per cent of America's social workers were at risk of alcohol or drug abuse and 25 per cent were at a moderate risk because of the pressure of work.
Social workers also have to work extended hours because of caseloads resulting from understaffing in some agencies, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Budget constraints of state and local government limit the number of social workers available to deal with the demand for their services. While trying to help as many clients as possible, their quality of work suffers when they continually add clients.
As the ageing population increases, the demand for social workers soars. The pressure is expected to increase even more in the near future as the ageing baby boomers create greater demand for health and social services.