7 Facts About International Social Work You Must Know


1. What is international social work anyway? The answer is not so simple! There are multiple widely used and accepted definitions for it. In general, it usually involves a social worker working to benefit an oppressed population. International social work is done in nearly every country, so the population and working environment is never the same.

2.Jane Addams arguably began the field of international social work. In 1889, she took a trip to London, where she saw settlement houses which sought to help the poor. This experience inspired her to open a settlement house in the US.

3. The two main tools of international social work are empowerment and advocacy.

4. Common skills for international social workers are: the basic social worker skills such as empathy, flexibility, and compassion, as well as unique skills for the sub-field like foreign language competency, experience abroad, and knowledge of the culture they are working with.

5. Some of the main challenges in the field include language barriers, cultural differences, legal issues, and a general lack of resources.

6. The largest employers of international social workers are the United Nations, UNICEF, the Peace Corps, the Red Cross, and Save the Children.

7. Salaries are hard to track due to the nature of the work, but international social workers employed in or by the US can expect to earn around the national average for a general social worker, which is $45,000.


9 Things About the Elderly You Should Know

1. Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common cause of dementia. Over 4 million Americans suffer from it, or a related disease. (J. Vassello, personal communication) This is a huge number and much more common than most people think!

2. Elders who are socially isolated are much more likely to have bad habits. For example, they may smoke, have a poor diet, or choose to not be physically active. (Stevenson, 2014)

3. The suicide rate is higher for people aged 65+ compared to all other age groups. (J. Vassello, personal communication) This is a contrast from what is publicized in the media and may be a surprise for many!

4. Nearly 60% of those 65+ consider depression to be normal part of aging, but only 38% of those 65+ consider depression a health issue. (Depression In Older Adults: More Facts)

5. By age 75, about 1 in 3 men and 1 in 2 women don’t get ANY physical activity. (11 Facts About Old Age) Physical activity has been proven to regulate mood and increase lifespan, so this is a big problem for older adults. Stay active!

6. Half of women 75+ live alone. (J. Vassello, personal communication) This is due to various reasons: their spouse could have passed, they never married, don’t have children or aren’t close with them, or they just choose to be independent.

7. LGBT seniors are twice as likely to live alone as straight seniors. (Stevenson, 2014)

8. In the United States, people over 65 are most likely to be living in poverty. According to recent estimates, about 10.5% of those 65+ are living in poverty. (11 Facts About Old Age)

9. Minorities aged 65+ are at least 3x more likely than a 65+ non-minority to be living in poverty. (11 Facts About Old Age)

Older adults were shown examples of conversations between people and asked to judge whether the exchange was sarcastic or not


Depression In Older Adults: More Facts. (n.d.). Retrieved April 28, 2016, from http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/depression-older-adults-more-facts

J. Vassello, personal communication, April 26, 2016.

Stevenson, S. (2014, October 17). 20 Facts about Senior Isolation That Will Stun You. Retrieved April 28, 2016, from http://www.aplaceformom.com/blog/10-17-14-facts-about-senior-isolation/

11 Facts About Old Age. (n.d.). Retrieved April 28, 2016, from https://www.dosomething.org/facts/11-facts-about-old-age

9 Things The Public Should Know About Mental Health

1. The actual definition of mental health and mental illness are not clear. For example, some classify it as a disease, while others may deem it as a social issue. (J. Vassello, personal communication)

2. As of 2014, 1 in 5 Americans have experienced a mental health issue. (Mental Health Myths and Facts) This is an incredibly large figure, and means that mental illness is much more common than you probably thought!

3. Despite widespread misconception, those with mental illness are usually non-violent. In fact, those with mental illness are much more likely to be victims of crime rather than perpetrators. (J. Vassello, personal communication)

4. More than 90% of children who die of suicide, had a mental illness. This is a devastatingly large statistic and tells us we need to be doing more for not only our children but for those with mental illnesses, as it can often be a life or death situation. (Mental Health By the Numbers)

5. Last year, about 16 million adults had a major depressive episode. (Mental Health By the Numbers)  Depression, and depressive episodes are a lot more common than most people think. Instead of hiding these figures as a society, we should be reducing the stigma and encouraging those who have depression to seek out help.

6. Only about 40% of adults with a mental illness received services in the past year. (Mental Health By the Numbers) This is another statistic showing we’ve dropped the ball as a society! ALL adults with a mental illness should be receiving services, and ALL adults should be getting regular checkups for prevention purposes.

7. Some of the most common mental illnesses are bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. (11 Facts About Mental Health) These are in no particular order, but for many discovering these are all some of the most common is eye-opening, due to the fact that many of these can result in suicide.

8. In 2013, over 41,000 people in the US commit suicide. (Mental Health, 2016) This is another devastatingly true statistic, and should push lawmakers and society as a whole to work harder for those who may be struggling.

9. With proper treatment, 70%-90% of those with mental illnesses experience significant symptom reductions and increased quality of life. (11 Facts About Mental Health) There is hope, and as a society we should be encouraging those we know to get help, reduce stigma, and advocate for better healthcare and access to healthcare for everyone. Hopefully one day we will be able to say nearly all of those with mental illnesses are receiving treatment and help, and nearly all are reporting a better quality of life!


J. Vassello, personal communication, April 19, 2016.

Mental Health. (2016). Retrieved April 22, 2016, from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/mental-health.htm

Mental Health By the Numbers. (n.d.). Retrieved April 22, 2016, from https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-By-the-Numbers

Mental Health Myths and Facts. (n.d.). Retrieved April 20, 2016, from http://www.mentalhealth.gov/basics/myths-facts/

11 Facts About Mental Health. (n.d.). Retrieved April 22, 2016, from https://www.dosomething.org/us/facts/11-facts-about-mental-health

11 Things the Public Does Not Know about Disabilities

1. About 5% of the total US population experiences a developmental disability. (DiNitto & McNeece, 2008, p. 220) About 15% of the world’s population, or over a billion people, experience some form of a disability however, and that number continues to rise. (10 facts on disability, 2013)

2. In 2007, Every twenty minutes, a child was diagnosed with autism. (DiNitto & McNeece, 2008, p. 220)

3. About 70% of adults with disabilities rely on their families and friends for assistance, as they are unable to care for themselves and are unable to receive assistance from the government for their needs. (10 facts on disability, 2013)

4. Willowbrook State School was a institution for people with intellectual disabilities founded in  the late 1940s that was made famous in an expose of the mistreatment of those with disabilities. (J.Vassello, personal communication)

5. In 1996, only 22% of BSW and MSW programs offered training on disabilities. Of those programs, only 4% had a specialization for working with people with disabilities. (DiNitto & McNeece, 2008, p. 234)

6. Women with disabilities are twice as likely to experience domestic violence compared to women who don’t have disabilities. (Women, children and violence)

7. People with disabilities are four times more likely to report being mistreated by  healthcare professionals. (Disabled people and Healthcare)

8. In 2013, only 17.6% of people with disabilities were employed. (Disability Statistics: Facts & Statistics on Disabilities & Disability Issues)

9. Only about 45 countries have laws against anti-discrimination towards those with disabilities. (Disability Statistics: Facts & Statistics on Disabilities & Disability Issues)

10. In the UK, 180 hate crimes against those with disabilities occur everyday. (Facts and statistics)

11. Adults with disabilities are twice as likely to not have received a formal education compared to adults without disabilities. (Facts and statistics)


  • DiNitto, D., & McNeece, C. (2008). Social work: Issues and opportunities in a challenging profession (3rd ed.). Chicago, IL: Lyceum Books
  • J. Vassello. Personal communication. April 12, 2016.

10 Facts for Future School Social Workers to Keep in Mind

1. There are always multiple sides to a story. When you are working with children, you cannot forget that they may sprinkle in little white lies here and there, or completely fabricate stories. Do not forget that there is their story, another persons story, and the truth! (M. Faughnan, personal communication)

2. You will need to establish a reputation in your school. For example, if you are working in a high school, kids do not really care what you have to say. The exception to this is, if you are an authority figure (like a principal), or if you are well respected among the students. So start building positive relationships early on to gain that respect! (S. Bligen, personal communication)

3. Parents can be a huge source of information. However, not all parents are willing  to talk. Be prepared to do a little (or a lot of) investigative work. (S. Bligen, personal communication)

4. You will be a mandated reporter. This means you are an advocate for these children, and you have a legal responsibility to report abuse if you suspect it. (J. Vassello, personal communication)

5. You will have support systems. If you are ever unsure of something, there are hotlines that you can call, and committees in your local community that you can seek out. On top of that, you may have other social workers in your department, or a licensed psychologist to solicit advice from. (S. Bligen, personal communication)

6. With K-5, pictures are a good way to gather information. This information will not always be clear cut, however. You need to become very good at deciphering small amounts of symbolism and decode what the picture really means to the child. (S. Bligen, personal communication)

7. You may face a lot of criticism. Parents, children, co-workers, and administrators. They may all have issues with you or your handling of a case throughout your career, and this can be very overwhelming. (M. Faughnan, personal communication)

8. You will have a large case load, compared to other sub fields of social work. Your case load could be in the hundreds, and you could potentially be overseeing multiple grades of children. This is a big responsibility! (S. Bligen, personal communication)

9. You may have some clients that dont want to talk to you. It may take weeks, even months for some students to open up. You need to be prepared for this and have the necessary patience that comes with this type of situation. Some students may never even talk to you, dont take this personal. They may just need a different social worker of a different gender, or race, that makes them feel more comfortable. (S. Bligen, personal communication)

10. Ultimately, you will be combining many sub fields of social work while working as a school social worker. For example, in one week you could deal with homelessness, domestic violence, substance abuse, and child welfare issues.



S. Bligen, personal communication, April 7, 2016.

M. Faughnan, personal communication, April 5, 2016.
J.  Vassello, personal communication, April 7, 2016.

10 Surprising Facts About Substance Abuse

1. The LGBT population, on average, experiences substance abuse disorders more frequently. (Silvestre, Beatty, & Friedman, 2013) This could be due to the fact that many in the LGBT community have un-supportive families, and are the victims of hate crimes, bullying, and social isolation.

2. As of 2012, it is estimated that 9% of the US population, or 22.5 million people, have a substance abuse disorder. (Straussner, 2012)

3. Despite being a prevalent issue in the US, and many social workers experiencing substance abuse issues in their family growing up, many social workers choose to not work with this population due to fear. Additionally, many social work schools do not even require students to be knowledgeable about substance abuse. (Straussner, 2012)

4. Veterans experience substance abuse disorders at higher rates, as well. This could be attributed to the fact that some veterans may feel the need to self medicate. (C. Studgeon, personal communication, 2016)

5. Illegal drug use costs the United States approximately 181 billion dollars annually. (Get the Facts on Substance Abuse, 2011)

6. In 2010, 60% of drug overdoses that resulted in death were due to prescription pain killers. (Get the Facts on Substance Abuse, 2011) This is probably contradictory to public knowledge on substance abuse overdoses. The general public is very aware of the dangers of harder drugs such as heroin, but it is lesser known that prescription pills can be just as dangerous if not used properly.

7. After alcohol, the most commonly abused drug is marijuana. (Get the Facts on Substance Abuse, 2011)

8. As of 2006, only 3 percent of licensed social workers list addictions as their specialty. (DiNitto & McNeece, 2008)

9. Currently, the US government is putting millions of dollars towards research to identify regions of the brain that could be stimulated in order to prevent addiction, or lessen the likelihood of an addiction to develop. (Straussner, 2012)

10. Younger people are more likely to abuse “designer” drugs. Designer drugs usually refers to inhalants, ecstasy, or anabolic steroids. On the other hand, older adults are more likely to abuse prescription drugs. (DiNitto & McNeece, 2008)


DiNitto, D., & McNeece, C. (2008). Social work: Issues and opportunities in a
challenging profession (3rd ed.). Chicago, IL: Lyceum Books.
Get the Facts on Substance Abuse. (2011). Retrieved March 14, 2016, from http://drugabuse.com/library/get-the-facts-on-substance-abuse/
Silvestre, A., Beatty, R., & Friedman, M. (2013). Substance Use Disorder in the
Context of LGBT Health: A Social Work Perspective. Social Work in Public
Health, 28, 366-376.
Straussner, S. (2012). Clinical Treatment of Substance Abusers: Past, Present and
Future. Clinical Social Work Journal Clin Soc Work J, 40, 127-133.

Studgeon, Connie. Personal communication. March 10, 2016.

10 Interesting Facts About Medical Social Work Everybody Needs to Know

1. Medical social workers employ three different types of practice. The three are: the multilevel practice, the strengths perspective, and the biopsychosocial practice. (DiNitto & McNeece, 2008, p. 200)

2. Ida Cannon launched the field of medical social work, in 1907, at Massachusetts General Hospital. She was hired by Richard Cabot who had identified a need in the medical field: someone to identify with patients on a more intimate level. Thus, medical social work was born.(DiNitto & McNeece, 2008, p. 194)

3. Approximately 141,000 people work in the medical social work field, according to recent estimates. (J. Vassello, personal communication)

4. Medical social work was the first specialization within the social work field. (DiNitto & McNeece, 2008, p. 203)

5. There are job opportunities in all three levels of social work in the medical field. Micro practice social workers usually provide counseling to patients, and assists with discharge and case management. Mezzo practice social workers usually work within the community and educate others about health related issues and needs. Macro practice social workers usually work on funding, advocating, and research issues in the medical field. (DiNitto & McNeece, 2008, p. 204)

6. There are also many places to work while in the medical social work field. Job applicants can choose from opportunities in primary care, the VA, dialysis centers, hospitals, nursing homes, hospice, or many other specialized care facilities.   (DiNitto & McNeece, 2008, p. 206-211)

7. Medical social workers are more likely to work in metropolitan areas, rather than small towns. (Facts about Social Work and Health) This is probably because there are more job opportunities in these types of areas, and bigger hospitals have the budget to hire social workers, whereas smaller hospitals in small towns may not. (J. Vassello, personal communication)

8. The medical social work field is ever changing, and there is currently a shortage of medical social workers. So, if you are in the job market, this could be a great choice for you! (Facts about Social Work and Health)

9. The average annual wage for medical social workers, as of 2015, is about 54,000. this breaks down to about $24.00 an hour! (Healthcare Social Workers, 2015)

10. California, employs the most medical social workers in the country, with approximately 14,000 people. New York has the second highest employment rate, at approximately 12,000. Massachusetts is a close third, coming in at 11,000 medical social workers. (Healthcare Social Workers, 2015)


DiNitto, D., & McNeece, C. (2008). Social work: Issues and opportunities in a
challenging profession (3rd ed.). Chicago, IL: Lyceum Books
Facts about Social Work and Health. (n.d.). Retrieved March 01, 2016, from https://www.socialworkers.org/pressroom/swMonth/2007/facts2.asp
Healthcare Social Workers. (2015). Retrieved March 01, 2016, from http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211022.htm
Vassello, John. Personal communication. March 1st.