How Social Workers Can Help Your Physical and Mental Health

social worker on a house visit - featured image

Whenever you have a problem in your life, sometimes all you need to do is reach out to the people who can help you and those who have your back. For many individuals, social workers are people who can help them prevent and deal with problems in their everyday lives. 

Social workers are employed in various fields such as child welfare, healthcare providers, schools, and even more places where people need help and support and don’t know where else to turn.

However, social workers are not just concerned with solving problems that affect people’s social lives – they can also solve problems that people have with physical and mental health. Here’s what you need to know about how social workers can help you solve problems related to your physical and mental health. 

First, though, we need to take a look at the social determinants of health.

What Are the Social Determinants of Health?

For many people, the way that they are feeling physically and mentally is going to be the most significant indicator of their health. However, there are a few other factors that impact the health of an individual. 

For example, there are the social determinants of health, which are all of the other things that affect our health and wellbeing. For example, your income is a social determinant of health.

How much money we have (and whether we have enough money) can certainly impact our mental wellbeing, but it can also impact where we live, the type of food we eat, the activities we can partake in, and the care that we can get. If you have a higher income, you will get more benefits that will be directly applicable to your health.

Education goes hand in hand with this because a higher education leads to a much higher income for starters. However, the more you know and the more you are able to understand, the more opportunities and options you can have when dealing with situations. 

Additionally, if you have a high education, then you can understand what will increase your physical and mental health, and why. 

Additionally, where people live, including the type of house and neighborhood they live in, can affect their health. If people live in a good neighborhood with great social connections and access to food, water, and other resources, then they will be able to be healthier and can make healthier choices. 

Sometimes the difference between healthy and unhealthy people is the choices that they are presented with, and how they respond to the choices they are given with the resources they have.

All of these social determinants of health are not just detrimental to people who are living in poor environments and who don’t have access to the resources that most other people have, but they are often also fixable problems. 

Poor Food Quality or Limited Access to Food

One of the biggest disparities between healthy people and unhealthy people can be as simple as the quality of the food they eat. If people don’t have access to a good grocery store that carries healthy options, or at the very least a grocery store that is able to carry good foods within their price range, then those people will never buy that healthy food.

They will then go to the unhealthier and cheaper alternative, not necessarily because they want to, but because they have no other choice. This leads to them having a much higher risk of issues such as heart failure, obesity, and diabetes. This simple choice can lower their lifespan compared to someone who has both the access and the means to buy healthy food. 

Even if people are able to get healthy food, the issue of food insecurity can also be a significant problem. 

Many people find that if they don’t know where their next meal is going to come from, it can be very easy to overeat, undereat, and develop some very unhealthy thoughts about food entirely. These thoughts and habits can be very hard to break, even if they find themselves in a location where food security is stabilized.

The Impact of Education

The importance of access to education should not be discounted. Whether that education comes from a school, a clinic, or another source, there are plenty of unhealthy people out there who simply don’t know any better. 

They might not want to be unhealthy, but they don’t know of any other way to embrace health, or they don’t know of all the options they have to get their mental and physical health under control.

Being able to provide access to good education and making sure that people can understand what they are being taught is an overlooked social determinant of health that has a massive impact. 

If people have a way to learn about their health, and how the choices they have both made and not made are impacting the way that they feel, then they can empower themselves to change their health.

However, often, too many people are ignorant and simply don’t allow themselves to accept the power that they have. Instead, they fall into the same negative habits as other unhealthy people. 

They think that all they can do is overcome the symptoms or get to a point where they feel good enough. However, with proper education and help from professionals who are invested in their success, they can take control of their health and become even better.

Being able to have access to education is a massive step in the right direction. This way, they can choose to make a change so that they can be empowered by the options at their disposal. 

The Impact of Social Events and Culture

Many people who are struggling with mental health are affected by social and cultural problems that cannot be fixed with a simple lifestyle change. 

If someone is discriminated against because of their gender, their race, their beliefs, or any other factors, then it can cause a lot of mental stress and other problems for them that can turn into health issues. 

Even just seeing negative events on television, in the media, or in other places can impact their stress levels, and if communities don’t have the support network to handle these problems, then it can make mental health worse across the board.

This also leads to physical health problems and can lead to a very poor way of thinking about the world and other people. If people don’t feel safe because of who they are, then it can be a massive problem. 

It can even lead to them taking up bad habits to feel safe and appreciated. Stress can also increase the likelihood of experiencing other mental health issues as well as experiencing physical problems.

Having places where people can feel safe expressing who they are can be extremely helpful in combating this. Showcasing ways to prevent social and cultural problems from occurring in the world, and showing healthy habits to reduce stress and the effects of poor mental health, can also be beneficial.

How Do Social Workers Help With Physical and Mental Problems?

One of the main ways that many social workers can help prevent physical and mental problems is through the work that they are already doing. While healthcare and visits to the doctor are good ideas, social workers can help people address any problems they are having because of a social determinant of health. 

Many social workers seek to solve problems that are not directly related to healthcare and wellbeing.

For example, if a family doesn’t have access to effective public transportation, this will affect how they can access affordable public healthcare, healthy food, and good employment. 

Social workers might work with organizations that are trying to increase the amount of public transportation that is in the patient’s local area, or they might help a family discover the public transportation options that they wouldn’t have otherwise known about.

Other social workers can support community or school gardens, farm-to-school programs, and other outcomes that can support the production and consumption of healthy foods. 

Finally, social workers can connect people to resources and other professionals who can help them handle various physical and mental problems. Someone might realize that they have a mental illness that is negatively affecting their health, or that they are struggling with a physical health problem and not know how to fix it. 

So, even if they know that a problem exists and that they need to fix it in order to improve their health, they might not know how.

Social workers can give them more information and connect them to the people who can help. They will be able to stand in their corner and guide them to all of the people who can help them get a handle on their problem. Social workers are advocates and will have their back regardless of what the problem is, and for many people, that is all they need.

Improving One Area of Life Can Improve All the Others

Many people reach out to a social worker because they are facing one significant injustice in their lives and don’t know how to fix it. However, often, that one large injustice causes a lot of problems in other areas of their lives, and it all becomes overwhelming to the point where they have no idea how they can even start to get better.

When people talk with social workers and get that one injustice fixed, they find that several other problems that were directly caused by the first injustice, or the stress of the first injustice, can easily be fixed. 

If someone is experiencing food insecurity, social injustice, or some other problem, a social worker can point them in the direction of resources and other professionals who can help them solve that problem. As the stress goes away, and they start reaching out and experiencing the benefits of the solved problem, they will find that it can be much easier to focus on good habits.

Getting clear from being in debt, having depression, or experiencing other hardships can give someone the power they need to handle all of the other problems in their life. 

Many people even experience a feeling of rebirth and renewal after getting to the other side of it all. So, people should not be afraid to see how a social worker can help them, even if their problem isn’t social in nature.

How To Help People as a Social Worker

Whether you are trying to solve a mental, physical, spiritual, or social problem as a social worker, all of the problems require a lot of skills, including active listening, good communication, the knowledge of local and national resources, and the ability to empathize without being overwhelmed. 

Additionally, you will need to be organized, because you will likely be working with several patients at the same time, all of whom will have their own specific problems and will need specific help. 

It can be a lot to take in, but once you master these skills and become better at them, you might want to push yourself and become a better social worker. 

You can start by getting a traditional BSW (Bachelor of Social Work) at Florida State University, for example, in order to work with clients and learn how to link their needs to the services that are going to help them. Getting a bachelor’s degree in social work is just the first step though, and you can also study for an MSW (Master of Social Work) at Florida State University.

This university offers part-time classes in order to fit your busy schedule, and with just three years of work, you can get yourself an MSW, which will enable you to embrace more opportunities and also become a clinical social worker. 

If you want to take further steps and achieve management-level positions, make the policies that will create real social change, and create and implement new systems to solve old problems, then this degree is going to be right for you.

So, don’t be afraid to advance your career to a much higher level, because this will allow you to work to solve some of the problems that are plaguing the communities you work with. If you want to make sure that you are actually solving the problems you are facing as a social worker, instead of just dealing with how those problems affect people, then get a master’s degree.

Social Work Creating Change

Often, whenever we are faced with a problem or an injustice, it can be very easy to try to solve the problem ourselves without getting help. The main issue with this is that if we could have solved the problem on our own, we would have done it already. Sometimes we don’t have all the information and help we need and we need to get some serious help from other people. 

A social worker can be all of the help that we need and more, and by helping us to solve the one big problem, it will lead to changes that can improve physical, mental, and emotional health across the board. 

For example, if the issues of income inequality and public transportation are fixed, and people have the option to eat good food and spend their money going to the gym, then they will. As a consequence of that, they will be healthier.

Social workers can cause physical and mental changes in their clients and in their own neighborhoods, because that one small change toward health, even in a non-health industry, can have a ripple effect that will course through all of the other problems that the client is currently facing.