Social workers are caretakers of our nation

The Ministry of Social Development and Family Services recognized and celebrated its Social Workers and other key frontline staff members in commemoration of World Social Work Day (WSWD) 2019 on Thursday 28th March, 2019 during a panel discussion at Port of Spain City Hall. World Social Work Day was observed on March 19th and was held under the universal theme for WSWD “Promoting the Importance of Human Relationships.”

Delivering welcome remarks, Permanent Secretary Jacinta Bailey-Sobers told participants “We salute all social workers, community activists, teachers, non-governmental organizations and other civic organizations across Trinidad & Tobago who continue to work tirelessly to provide a better quality of life for the vulnerable.” Describing social workers as the “caretakers of our nation,” PS Bailey-Sobers indicated that though the work is often seen as thankless, social workers can reduce poverty and make Trinidad and Tobago a more welcoming place for all persons.”

PS Bailey-Sobers remarks were followed by a panel discussion featuring Family Practitioner/Psychiatrist and Independent Senator Dr Varma Deyalsingh; Clinical Therapist and Traumatologist Mr. Hanif EA Benjamin; and Author and Pastor Mr Raymond Okille.

Speaking on Mental Health and Burn Out, Dr Varma Deyalsingh urged attendees to beware of emotional exhaustion, occupational burnout, desensitization and secondary traumatic stress as these can lead to depression, which can ultimately increase the risk of one suffering from a heart attack. He also indicated that a code of ethics should be implemented for the profession to promote standards and consistency in the profession, that would preserve the life span of the social worker.

Hanif Benjamin encouraged participants to engage in activities that promote self-care including breathing techniques, dedicated “me time” as well as creating work-life balance. Mr Benjamin informed participants that streamlining of paper work and case work management techniques should also be practiced.

Raymond Okille who spoke on “Engendering and Building Healthy Family and Professional Relationships” focused on the need to build healthy relationships on trust, mutual respect and communication. These he expressed, were critical to maintaining positive family and professional relationships. Attendees were also treated to hand massages and manicures from clients of the Ministry’s Sowing Empowerment through Entrepreneurial Development Programme.

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