So, I leave work late last night, around midnight and start my morning bright and early around 7am. My day on Wednesdays start with the Diversity, Marginalization and Oppression class. Once again this class has been enlightening and eye opening. However, today in an almost eerie way, the discussion section that has always been a very intimate experience moved towards how we as social workers can become politically influential. The "Occupy Wall Street" movement was discussed but we moved on to the media. It became apparent how many of my fellow students harbour some resentment towards the media. I understand this feeling, as a frequent consumer of "The Daily Show" and listener of both CBC radio every morning and NPR I like to think that I get a healthy dose of balanced media. Also, I believe it's important to be a critical consumer, think about what you're listening to. Ask yourself, am I being preached to or is this just a presentation of the facts and allowing me to make up my own mind about this issue. When you make up your own mind, you may fall on one side of the fence or the other and I think that is an incredible experience. To develop your own eclectic, diverse view of the world based on experiences and developed from being educated.
Which brings me to psychoeducation, traditionally psychoeducation is used as a response to individuals who suffer a variety of illnesses or issues. As a social worker, it's a common experience for clients to tell me "I'm told I have (insert mental health issue here) but I really don't know what the doctors are talking about." A concept that we discussed in class today was getting involved with the media as social workers and being proactive about psychoeducation. Is it possible to deliver psychoeducation and expose issues of mental illness, poverty, etc. through the media? Have social workers inform journalists interested in these issues and giving voice to psychoeducation on a mass media level?
This is a really exciting idea to me. I think the potential of delivering awareness could have a positive impact. I however realize that this is more of a public service announcement and may not be seen as desirable to report on so, in class we look at case examples. I think that is the proverbial key to unlocking this issue, personalize the story, give it a face. A second area where psychoeducation could be valuable here is to display and interpret the empirical data on homelessness, poverty and social welfare. There is a belief here in Canada, as I'm sure there is around the world that funding social programs is a tax on working society. The reality is that research shows increased social programs increases public safety by decreasing crime, empowers individuals on the fringe of society who may not have a means to empower themselves through education and employment. The data shows that this is an investment in human capital and does have substantial returns, a positive economic impact. This may not seem logical, it may not make common sense at surface value for an equation: Increase social welfare funding + increase in social programming = economic profits. That equation just doesn't fit within the realm of common sense but studies show that this is the way to combat these issues with a positive economic outcome in the end.