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FOR RELEASE: February 27, 2007
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

"Hope and Health" is the Theme for National Social Work Month

Receiving the diagnosis of an illness can be a confusing time for anyone. Will I be able to handle the treatment? How will I balance my care with the needs of my family? How will this affect my job?

The health care social worker can help individuals and families as they work through these sometimes frightening and confusing issues. Their importance as an integral member of the interdisciplinary health care team will be observed by the Oklahoma State Department of Health during National Social Work Month in March, with its theme, "Hope and Health" focusing on issues related to wellness.

"More than simply treating a client, health care social workers take a holistic, psychosocial approach to working with a client to provide the best overall care," said Public Health Social Work Coordinator Margaret DeVault, MSW, LSW, of the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

DeVault said more than 110,000 health care social workers across the country act as the advocate for a client's needs and guide them in making decisions about their physical and emotional care. Social workers also work with the family to understand and to help the client through counseling or support groups.

"Health care social workers with a focus on public health are employed by the Oklahoma State Department of Health and the Tulsa County and Oklahoma City-County health departments," she noted.

Public health social workers focus on psychosocial factors that affect health, and strive to improve the health and well being of individuals, families and their communities. They play key roles in emphasizing prevention by strengthening social support systems that promote well-being, provide protections against ill health, and minimize disability and institutionalization. Additionally, public health social workers promote the reduction of the social stressors associated with health problems, focus on long-range strategies, systems change, policy, and legislation and focus on community or policy factors that could impact health.

National Social Work Month also provides an opportunity for social workers to highlight the essential role they play in alleviating some of America's most difficult problems. Through education, training and dedication, social workers provide assistance in many different practice areas including aging, mental health, child welfare, cancer, end of life, adolescent health, HIV/AIDS and family violence.

Social workers are essential to the hope and health of their clients.  To find comprehensive information about the role of social work and where to go for assistance for these and other issues, visit www.HelpStartsHere.org.

"Social workers have the unique ability to look at person's situation from a broad perspective," added DeVault. "We understand that the best health care requires a broad view of social, environmental, psychological, and economic options."

For more information on how public health social workers are supporting your community, contact Margaret DeVault at (405) 271-4480, or via e-mail at Margaretd@health.ok.gov, or visit this Web site: http://www.health.ok.gov.

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