Baton Rouge – To help highlight the essential role social work plays in alleviating some of America’s most difficult problems, Gov. Bobby Jindal has declared March 2008 as Professional Social Work Month in the state of Louisiana.  This coincides with a national effort to recognize how social work impacts the emotional health and well-being of many of society’s residents.

This year’s theme, “Building on Strengths: Help Starts Here,” focuses on the way social workers understand and build upon important strengths inherent in each individual, family and community.  Understanding and building upon these strengths is essential to how social workers treat many of society’s problems.

“The foundation for growth and change in any individual, family or community is existing strengths,” said Dr. Elizabeth Clark, executive director of the National Association of Social Workers.  “Social workers are trained from the ‘strengths perspective,’ where emphasis is placed on the individuals’ innate assets and resources available and using those assets as a starting point for further growth.”

Social Work Month honors the way social workers provide their assistance on many different stages, including work involving emergency preparedness, physical health, mental health, child welfare, aging, end of life issues, adolescence, disabilities, HIV/AIDS and family violence.

Social workers who work through the Department of Health serve numerous programs thoughout the Office of Public Health, the Office of Mental Health, the Office for Addictive Disorders, Medicaid, the Office of Aging and Adult Services and the Office for Citizens with Developmental Disabilities.