Social Worker Admission Essay
Each answer to be written in essay format and not to exceed 500 words per answer. All instructions are on document. I have also drafted answers to each question. By no means do you need to stick to this, they are merely suggestions. I am also happy to provide you with my resume for reference as this is a personal statement and should be as personal as possible.
- What experiences motivate you to become a Social Worker?
My initial motivation to become a Social Worker stemmed from visiting my grandmother when she became hospitalized with a stroke. During this time I realized how lonely patients could become as a result of being stuck in a hospital room all day. After beginning my undergraduate studies in Psychology and learning about the links of mental health and aging, I was confident that my knowledge would be put into good use volunteering with the Hospital Elder Life Program. Being a HELP volunteer, I was able to visit with elderly patients admitted into the hospital for various reasons and help to maintain their mental health, or at least minimize the effects of them experiencing delirium/ dementia as a result of being in a hospital. This experience was novel and challenging at first, being that it was my first time witnessing deteriorating mental health first-hand, but turned out to be one of the most rewarding experiences being able to provide these individuals with something as simple as company to put a smile on their faces. This experience was the first to many for myself to follow suit in the Social Work field.
I continued to gain experience in the Social Work field obtaining a Volunteer Mentor position with Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Canada. In this position, I was able to gain experience working with troubled youth to provide them the opportunity to gain the confidence to achieve more. I would say this position was more of prevention-based social work program to make sure that the kids are motivated and informed of the importance of education/school, are able to build strong and healthy relationships with role models (mentors), and figuring out where their healthy interests lie.
My most relevant experience that really motivated me to apply to continue my studies in the Social Work field and take on a more managerial (policy government) role was when I begun working as a Support Worker with Community Living Durham North. This was a very front line position, working in group homes and day programs to assist supported persons with day to day activities, to aid them in accomplishing their goals and help them to be as integrating in the community as possible. In addition to this position, I was employed as a 1:1 resource staff to work with children on the spectrum in a play-based daycare setting before and after school. These two positions in combination motivated me to gain additional education to become qualified to take on a more advanced role in order to create and implement programs and processes to better the existing interventions in place. I want to be able to build on my knowledge and experience working as a frontline support worker with individuals experiencing disabilities, to take on a more advanced role in responding to social needs through planning and social policy interventions.
- What are your career goals or aspirations following completion of graduate education in Social Work?
My professional goals following completion of graduate education in Social Work is to address gaps that children face, especially children of immigrant family’s, to ensure that they are seeking the necessary help that they require when it comes to seeking required mental health services. Me, being a first-generation Canadian, have observed this disparity first hand in my family and community. My background in psychology and experience working with individuals faced with developmental disorders has trained me to pick out signs of someone facing mental health issues. As a result, I have come across many individuals within my family, and more generally, the South Asian community, that require mental health services that just don’t get the help that they need. Many of these individuals are children and come from family’s where their parents are immigrants to Canada and depend on their parents to make their life decisions for them. My goal as a professional in the Social Work field would be to raise awareness in the South Asian community by helping to increase mental health literacy in hopes of reducing the stigma associated with mental health within the South Asian community.
I would ideally like to work alongside organizations such as the South Asian Mental Health Initiative & Network (SAMHIN), and the South Asian Mental Health Alliance to figure out ways to have more child-focused interventions in place for family’s with children who require mental health services within the South Asian community. I would like to help expand and diversify the network of these organizations so that they get in touch with more community members. It is important for everyone in the South Asian community to be more educated in mental health, regardless of whether someone in their day to day life experiences mental health issues or not. This step is key because educating the community increases acceptance and understanding within the community, thus aiding in the de-stigmatization of mental illness. Planning initiatives through policy interventions to reduce stigma would be a major goal of mine as stigma, at various levels such as self, community, society, etc., is the largest barrier to utilization of formal mental health care. I hope to have an intervention in place to target individuals in childhood so that children will be able to get the help that they need from early on, which can, in some cases, reduce the seriousness and extremity of the mental illness later on in life.
Having policies in place to increase mental health literacy within the South Asian community will hopefully have an effect on recognition, management, and prevention of mental illness.
As much as increasing mental health literacy within the community is important, it is just as important for mental health workers such as social workers and mental health physicians to have a greater understanding of different communities, such as the South Asian community, I hope to be able to take on planning role in which training programs for mental health workers integrates more culture specific training as well in order for professionals to be able to build a stronger and effective relationship with their clients.
- Discuss how a Social Worker could work with contemporary social problems of interest to you?
Key social problems of interest to me in the domain of social work are the integration of immigrant communities into society, social inequities that they are faced with, stigma around mental health, and education of physicians when it comes to understanding and knowing immigrant communities and cultures.
Social workers are faced with each of these everyday in their work. To begin, immigrants to Canada from other countries, using South Asian countries as an example, are faced with a completely new language, culture, demographic, and lifestyle when they arrive here. With all those cultural barriers, it can be quite difficult for them to transition smoothly into life here. In Canada, especially in Toronto, we are fortunate enough to be such a multicultural city but even then there can be obstacles that arise such as simple inequities that they are faced with. For example, studies have shown that immigrant families tend to live in poorer neighborhoods and may not have access to the best jobs due to lack of education. They may also not completely be aware of all the resources that are available to them in the community simply due to in access of this information, language barriers, or any other cultural or physical barriers that may be at play. It is the social worker’s responsibility to identify these barriers and work through them in order to provide accessibility to the newcomer communities so that information about services and help are available to them in a way that they understand and can confidently access.
Another major social problem in the domain of mental health in general that needs to be addressed is the stigma surrounding mental health. De-stigmatization of mental health illnesses will need to take a more cross-generational approach where there will be most likely be more of an accepting society and become less negatively stigmatized over generations to come. It is important for immigrant families coming into Canada to be educated in the field of mental health; regardless of how educated they are already. De-stigmatization decreased when you have an informed and educated community Not only does education reduce stigma, but it can also assist in prevention of mental illness, help induce early interventions if parents are able to detect early signs in their kids, provides effective means of self-help, and increases support from and to the community members experiencing mental illness. It is important for professionals in the social work field to not only provide mental health education to newcomer communities, but also provide it in an accessible way that the communities will understand the information and perspectives. Testimonials from members of a cultural group for instance may help to ease any in comfort surrounding the topic. In specific to mental health in children, it is important for parents to be educated about healthy development and about prominent disorders (ADHD, ADD, Autism, etc.) and the signs of these disorders in order to facilitate the child’s development the best way possible from an early stage in life. With some parents having alterior explanations for behaviours such as religion, demonic, etc., and therefore being in denial of the child’s disorder, not only hinders the child from developing in a healthy and nurturing environment, but also hinders the child from being integrated into in the long run in the most effective way.
Social workers and all other professionals in the mental health field should be obligated to educate themselves with their clients background in order to best help them. Different cultures respond to differing approaches; they have different comfort levels; they may have different cultural beliefs and traditions that need to be respected in the process. Social workers being aware of cultural differences would help people of immigrant communities feel more comfortable seeking help from professionals that don’t see them as completely forging to the rest of society.
- What is your understanding of professional suitability in relation to Social Work? In terms of professional suitability, what do you see as your personal strengths and what do you identify as areas for growth?
Professional suitability in relation to social work can take many forms but the key being understanding your clientele. This takes a lot of patience, listening, education about cultures/beliefs, knowledge of approaches/ interventions that work for every type of personality you are working with, and
From a therapeutic perspective, there is a lot of trial and error that takes place in order to get to know your client and try out various interventions that the client responds best to. This in itself requires immense patience and physical/mental energy, especially when working with kids, who seem to have 10 times the energy of an adult.