Academic journal article Health and Social Work

There Is a Time for Every Purpose under Heaven. (Editorial)

Academic journal article Health and Social Work

There Is a Time for Every Purpose under Heaven. (Editorial)

Article excerpt

My time is up as editor-in-chief of Health & Social Work. NASW Press is a democratic organization in which volunteer reviewers, editorial boards, and editors-in-chief serve fixed terms. This editorial is the last of my four-year term as editor-in-chief. Before becoming editor-in-chief, I served six years as a reviewer and columnist. I wrote my first National Health Line column in August 1993, still giddy from the Democratic presidential and congressional election landslide of 1992. Excited at the prospect of change long overdue, my first column proclaimed, "Health Reform: Our Greatest Opportunity... Ever!" So much for my prescience. Looking back I realize what a privilege it has been to write for our profession throughout a decade of such highs and lows, in a nation that too often has made a mockery of our profession's commitment to justice and compassion.

A DECADE OF HEALTH AND SOCIAL WORK

For social workers on the frontlines, the past decade has been a cascade of changes and challenges. A plethora of practice challenges, policy reforms, increasing clinical demands, and changing research priorities have kept practitioners and clinical researchers working harder than ever, and the pages of Health & Social Work have documented these transformations in aging, HIV/AIDS, dying, mental health, addictions, women's health, maternal and child health, genetics counseling, and public health, along with the growing disparities in the health of and treatment received by people who are rich and poor.

Many changes involve the psychobiological and socioeconomic aspects of health that social work practitioners understand through acquired practice wisdom. Special populations at risk include people with communication disorders, diverse cultural and sexual identities, and little education or money and people who misuse substances. Many infectious diseases are now treated as chronic conditions, and some terminal illnesses no longer kill. However, previously unknown genetic predispositions and rare and new syndromes still mystify the medical profession. We have watched methods in health practice improve, with articles on telephone group work, online and tele-psychotherapy, psychoeducation, rehabilitation, alternative medicine, and practice in evidence-based medical settings.

The health aspects of social problems have been recognized, as in domestic violence, addictions, anger, depression, menopause, obesity and frailty, to name a few. However, investigations that may lead to understanding the psychosocial aspects of disease and disability, as well as the physical aspects of psychological distress, are still in their infancy (Goleman, 1995; Haseltine & Jacobson, 1997, U.S. Surgeon General, 1999).

Home has re-emerged as the primary site of service delivery for people with AIDS, mental health problems, criminal records, and advanced age. Important new research links health with place, examining geography, environmental hazards, and social support and using computerized mapping and other analytic tools. Practice in supported housing now involves intensive social support, individualized service delivery, programmed mutual aid, and creative approaches to community integration. Unfortunately, just as the neighborhood is being rediscovered as a site of practice, many communities--especially the most desirable ones--seem to be morphing into hybrid niche commodities, isolating social classes from each other and weakening their own viability (Florida, 2002). Vast inner cities are as unhealthy as they were in the 1960s. Others, isolated in agricultural regions and small towns, are dying simply because of their depressed economies, inability to keep young people, and a prolonged drought.

The mode of macropractice promoted by government and private funding agencies in the 1990s was the wholesale development of targeted and efficient partnerships, collaborations, and consortia with social services. …

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