Baton Rouge – Receiving the diagnosis of an illness can be a confusing time for anyone. Will I be able to handle the treatment? How will I balance my care with the needs of my family? How will this affect my job? Who will help me figure all this out?

The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, along with the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), announces that March is National Social Work Month. This year’s theme – Hope and Health: Help Starts Here – highlights the important role of health care social workers in the well-being of their clients.

According to Patricia Scott, director of social work for the LDH Office of Public Health, social workers take a holistic, psychosocial approach to working with a client to provide the best overall care.

“In the health care setting, social workers remove barriers to effective treatment for a client,” says Scott, LCSW. “They provide hope throughout the course of an illness, helping clients to overcome their devastation and look to the future.”

More than 110,000 health care social workers across the country act as the advocate for a client’s needs and guide them in making decisions about their physical and emotional care. Social workers also work with the family to understand and to help the client through counseling or support groups.

Scott added that social workers play a key role in the quality of care for clients throughout the health agency.  “Social workers see a client through the entire trajectory of their illness – from diagnosis to treatment to recovery and beyond,” she said.

Social Work Month also provides an opportunity for social workers to highlight the essential role they play in alleviating some of America’s most difficult problems. Through education, training and dedication, social workers provide assistance in many different practice areas including aging, mental health, child welfare, cancer, end of life, adolescent health, HIV/AIDS and family violence.

Social workers are essential to both the physical and mental health of their clients. To find comprehensive information about the role of social work and where to go for assistance for these and other issues,