Seemingly delightful, this world is full of problems that we can’t imagine. What makes a problem social? A response to what is ‘social’ about a social problem is that such issues have gained grip over a particular society’s attention at a given time.
Social Work is a practical profession that fosters social change, development, cohesion and empowering individuals.
Social Workers work with different people and populations. It includes those who are vulnerable, needy, and living in oppressed conditions. They address the issues of social injustice and barriers to their client’s wellbeing. According to their expertise, a social worker often participates in the formulation of social policies.
A social worker’s job is both gratifying and emotionally challenging. It requires the following characteristics in a person:
- Strong communication skills
- Persuasive skills
- Critical Thinking
- Unbiased judgment
Social work is quite strenuous in terms of the challenges faced. The unpredictable schedule is another concern causing work-life balance problems for the social workers. This profession requires immense emotional stability to deal with crises and different people. Some significant challenges are listed below.
1. Ethical Dilemmas
An ethical dilemma is defined in social work as a situation where two or more professional ethics conflict. We can see many ethical dilemma examples in social work, where workers have to choose between two actions. Which in return might result in harm to one or more persons. Some of the ethical dilemmas faced by social workers are as follows:
- Diversity and Cultural Awareness
Social Workers must be aware of their client’s cultural backgrounds. Being mindful of the differences and similarities in the culture help the workers to understand the concerns for which the clients are seeking help. They need to approach cultural differences with respect, openness, and willingness to learn.
- Differences in Personal Values
Social workers come across situations where the client’s demands conflict with the worker’s moral values. Values are significant to decision-making from the social work perspective. However, these values can contradict professional standards because the practitioners are bound to follow the code of ethics and policies.
- Breach of Confidentiality
Clients have the right to private life. Social work practitioners have to respect confidentiality while dealing with a personal issue or sharing the matters with colleagues and organizations. They need to understand the severity of sensitive cases before releasing any information publicly.
- Dignity and worth of a person
Social work practitioners have to respect inherent dignity. They must seek to improve people’s lives without incurring any harm to their dignity. However, there may be instances, especially in abuse or violence cases, where people’s dignity or respect can be at stake. Here, the social worker must ensure that people can maintain the right to privacy while also enjoying freedom from miserable conditions.
2. Community Wellbeing & Social Framework
Social Work has extended roots to individuals, families, groups, and communities. They ought to help them with different issues in various settings. Some of them work as case managers, which means they work with families or individuals who want to bring changes in their lives. And they link them with the relevant agencies and programs that help such people. Some of the challenges in this context are as follows:
- Addressing Health Issues
Issues such as mental illness, traumatic experiences, disability, etc. are widely increasing over the past few decades. Social workers have to handle such sensitive matters with expertise and knowledge in behavioural sciences. Evidence-based social policies and innovations help to promote improvements in the health sector.
- Put a stop to family violence
It includes domestic violence, stalking, child abuse, financial and sexual abuse resulting in serious injuries or death. Social workers should stay the course while providing the support and resources to help such people. Thus, interventions can be a disincentive to abuse. Furthermore, they can develop new strategies and find new alternatives to help mitigate family violence.
- Ending homelessness and improving education
Social workers need to participate in policy formulation to help build homes for homeless people. The challenge is to create proven strategies to make education accessible for all. Policy formulations and bills in the parliament can help in this regard. However, ensuring equal rights for minorities can pose to be a challenge.
- Addressing social isolation
Social isolation is as detrimental to health as smoking. Over time, the social workers have raised concern over social isolation. Older adults experience loneliness more as compared to youngers. Therefore, one can spread awareness about social interaction and develop evidence-based interventions to tackle this issue.
The goal of highlighting the challenges is to find solutions in the form of research, policy recommendations, and advocacy to help people in need. Social workers have to face the ills of society that create hurdles in community development.
These problems are either client-based or because of government authorities. People who opt for careers in social work have good intentions to make a positive impact on society. However, they must be mindful of the challenges awaiting them.