The role of social workers during natural disasters

Although perhaps not as widely publicized as other social work careers, students who earn their master’s in social work (MSW) may find themselves called upon to help others in the wake of a natural disaster or catastrophic event. In a world where terrorist plots and extreme weather conditions threaten everyday life for many people, social work professionals may find themselves becoming increasingly familiar with this type of work.

How to approach disasters from a social work perspective

Social Workers and Disaster Scenarios An article published by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) regarding social workers and their role in disaster scenarios.

Field Manual for Human Services Workers in Major Disasters A series of guidelines addressing working conditions social workers may face when operating in major disaster areas.

Cultural Competency Curriculum for Disaster Preparedness and Crisis Response Catastrophes, whether natural or created, care little for race, language or religion. In times of disaster, social workers must be able to function effectively and impartially. This course offered by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) could prove useful for students pursuing their MSW degree in order to provide context to their studies.

Strengthening the Human Services Workforce in Disaster Areas An article examining how the social services workforce can be expanded upon in areas affected by natural disasters, using the aftermath of the 2010 Haiti earthquake as a case study.

Coping With Disasters and Strengthening Systems: Guidelines for Child Welfare Agencies When catastrophes strike communities, the wellbeing of children in state care can often be placed in jeopardy. These guidelines suggest operational practices intended to minimize the threat to the welfare of children during disaster scenarios.

Social Work and Natural Disasters: The Role of Spirituality and Post-Traumatic Growth A paper which investigates the role of social work in the context of natural disasters by examining how the survivors of a major 2005 earthquake in Taiwan developed psychologically and spiritually.

Working effectively during disaster recovery efforts

Identifying Human Remains Following Air Disasters: The Role of Social Workers When faced with situations involving large losses of life, social workers may be called upon to assist law enforcement personnel in addition to survivors. This publication looks at the role of social work professionals during the victim identification process following major air disasters.

International Social Work A paper that investigates how social work professionals can mobilize effectively when confronted with disasters on a large scale that may necessitate international aid operations. This article could provide students earning their MSW degree with useful insight into international aid efforts.

Man-made Disaster and Development: The Case of Iraq An examination of how social work principles, such as societal justice and equality, can often be at odds with circumstantial truths surrounding scenarios such as war zones. The paper focuses on the implications of the policies leading to the Iraq War on the social workers operating in the country.

Working in the aftermath

Trauma and Recovery A detailed investigation into the psychological effects of trauma and how social work professionals can learn from typical reactions to traumatic events in order to effectively assess and treat victims and survivors of catastrophes.

Disaster and Crisis: Social Work Responses to World Events A PowerPoint presentation examining the nature of uncertainty caused by catastrophic events, how to differentiate between crisis and grief, and how to develop strategies for social workers when working in disaster areas.

Coping With Disaster An article that lists commonly experienced psychological and behavioral conditions following a catastrophe and how to approach the treatment of victims and survivors.

Helping Survivors After Disaster A publication by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) that identifies at-risk individuals, likely psychological effects of disaster situations and treatment methodologies.

Assisting Older Victims of Disaster: Social Worker Responsibilities When disasters hit, it is often the young and the elderly who are most affected. This paper examines the roles and responsibilities of social workers in the aftermath of disasters.

The Aftermath of 9/11: Social Workers’ Reflections on a Tragedy An article that discusses the impact of September 11 on social work research in New York City, and what individuals can learn from the outcomes of community disasters.

Preparing For The Next Disaster: Lessons 9/11 Can Teach Charities An article originally published by the Urban Institute, this article discusses the role that charitable organizations played during the weeks and months following September 11 and how such organizations can shape future disasters.

The Compassion Fatigue Scale and Social Workers Following Urban Disasters A paper focused on what can be learned from the use of secondary trauma in identifying and predicting psychological stress in social workers following disasters in urban areas.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) One of the most commonly experienced psychological conditions experienced by survivors of major disasters, this book addresses what exactly PTSD is, how it affects individuals and how it can be treated.

Coping With Disasters: Psychosocial Intervention Major disasters can be one of the most traumatic and emotionally stressful experiences human beings can endure. Social workers must be able to identify and treat victims of major catastrophes effectively.

Are you interested in being on the front lines to help others after natural disasters hit? Earn your Online MSW degree to be better prepared to help those after catastrophes.

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