Hillary Rodham Clinton waded into issues of the Affordable Care Act, children’s mental health, and gun control as the keynote speaker at the National Council for Behavioral Health 2014 conference. Few major politicians
have ever addressed a conference devoted to improving behavioral healthcare.
She surprised many by taking on America’s gun culture: widespread access to lethal weapons is not, she declared, in the “best interest of the vast majority of people.” She concluded, “I think again we’re way out of balance. I think that we’ve got to rein in what has become almost an article of faith that anybody can have a gun anywhere, anytime.” (read our “Gun-Violence” blog series here )
The main thrust of her lengthy speech was that mental health/substance use must not be regarded as isolated issues. She advocated for an integrated healthcare system that meets the full range of the health-related needs of all members of society, not just those who can afford specialized treatment or who prefer to focus on medical-surgical treatment. She spoke of the need to create the conditions for health, not just the treatment of disease.
This concept is the crux of the issue for clinical social work. We are trained to look at people from the person-in-environment perspective, perfect for the work that Clinton is describing. But who, in positions of power—the system-builders and system-changers—values clinical social work, and thinks about our capabilities and our presence in all settings and all environments? Are they only listening to doctors and nurses, and themselves? How should we be changing our profession’s education, training, and perspective to become more effective partners in this process of change?
What are your thoughts about the healthcare system and clinical social work’s role in it, now and in future?