In March, Congress approved more than $2 trillion in economic relief, including hundreds of billions of dollars to individuals in direct stimulus payments, nutritional assistance and bigger-than-normal unemployment checks. The aid “has been much more effective than I first thought,” said Luke Shaefer “It was probably the most effective social safety net response we’ve ever had.”
The School is committed to the safety of our community; the uninterrupted education of our students, including those who will graduate at the end of this term; and to the continuity of services.
Professor Trina Shanks is the director of the newly launched Center for Equitable Family & Community Well-Being, which is designed to connect the resources and the intellectual strength of U-M with the passion and social capital of community leaders. The center’s work will focus explicitly on improving the well-being of families and communities, and reducing existing inequities.
"When I first conceptualized the Center for Equitable Community & Family Well-Being in the fall of 2019, I was concerned about growing inequality and the economic insecurity faced by many Black and low-income households both in the United States and locally in Southeastern Michigan,” says Shanks. “During this current moment of crisis and uncertainty in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, racial protest and economic freefall, the urgency to address equity concerns becomes even more pressing. Although the center is just getting started, we have a few signature projects already underway that hint at how we intend on pursuing our vision to expose oppressive systems and empower families and communities to thrive. Please review our current work and feel free to reach out to anyone on our team with your ideas of how to collaborate on research or interventions that bring greater equity to vulnerable communities and families."
Professor Daphne Watkins has been named a University Diversity and Social Transformation Professor.
Sponsored by the Office of the Provost, and jointly administered by the U-M National Center for Institutional Diversity (NCID) and the Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ODEI), the Diversity and Social Transformation Professorship is an honor designation for senior faculty who have the highest levels of achievement in demonstrating a commitment to the university’s ideals of diversity, equity and inclusion through their scholarship, teaching or service and engagement. The initial appointment is for five years and also includes special faculty fellow status at NCID.
Watkins’ research uses an equity approach to improving mental health, expanding definitions of masculinity, and increasing social support among Black men. She is also a global thought leader in mixed method research, and uses technology and social networks to improve the health of underrepresented communities. She is the founding director of the award-winning YBMen Project, which uses popular culture and social media to provide health education and social support for young Black men.
Watkins has a demonstrated record of leadership. She is a mentor to students and faculty across a variety of disciplines, and directs the Vivian A. and James L. Curtis School of Social Work Center for Health Equity Research and Training. She has served as president of the American Men's Studies Association (2013-2017), director of the Joint PhD Program at Michigan Social Work (2017-2018), and is the founding director of the Gender and Health Research Lab (GendHR Lab) and the Certificate Program in Mixed Methods Research. In 2018, she was recognized as an outstanding alumna at Texas A&M University and received the Thought Leadership Award from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
“It is an honor to be recognized by the University of Michigan in this way. The NCID is a powerhouse in their diversity, equity and inclusion efforts and I look forward to actualizing their mission, and that of the School of Social Work, through this amazing opportunity.”
Via the Virtual Therapy Collaboration for Wayne County, the School of Social Work’s Detroit Clinical Scholars and Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Scholars have been providing low-cost/no-cost mental health support to callers, age 14 and up, who are suffering from COVID-related distress. Clinical Assistant Professor Daicia Price serves as the collaboration’s clinical consultant, leading training and support. This collaborative, called ReachUs Detroit, offers up to twelve sessions of virtual therapy via telehealth and chat functions, at any time, twenty-four-seven.
“Many young people are distressed right now,” Price explains, “and COVID has disrupted so many field placements for our students. So, it was mutually beneficial for our students to get telehealth training opportunities while, at the same time, ReachUs Detroit increases access to mental health services for community members.”
Price herself has had the opportunity to take calls as a clinician on the line, and she reports that it has been fulfilling. It is also innovative. Other, similar helplines refer callers to therapy elsewhere. “But this one,” Price says, “is designed so you get a therapist right on the line, right away. You aren’t referred out somewhere.”
The marketing has also been innovative. “The faces of our program are Black men,” Price says, “including police officers. These are folks who might not normally express the need for this kind of help. Making them the face of the campaign has been pretty neat!”
In response to the new guidance issued Monday by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, we are working closely with the U-M International Center to discuss the implications for our students. Based on initial review, these regulations for international students do not conflict with the School’s plans for fall term classes. SSW International students will enroll in hybrid model courses, consisting of a mixture of in-person and remote classes.
Michigan Social Work international students demonstrate dedication, commitment and have made sacrifices to pursue their academic goals. Their experiences and perspectives enrich us all — as academics, as social workers and as global citizens. We stand in support of our international students and will do everything possible to help each of them continue their studies with minimal disruption.
Assistant Professor Anao Zhang talks with the CDC about hopefulness, mental health and wellness counseling for adolescent and young adult cancer survivors.
“I have lots of challenges around my experience with law enforcement,” says Clinical Assistant Professor Daicia Price. “I have been incarcerated myself, and my son has been incarcerated for crimes he did not commit. With all that is going on now, I was trying to figure out how to make a difference.” Price decided to become trained in connecting law enforcement and mental health.
With the challenges that communities of color, in particular, have faced regarding policing and use of force, there have in fact been several calls to increase mental health training of law enforcement. Price has partnered with Detroit Wayne Integrated Health Network to provide Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) for interested law enforcement agencies. Just this week as a CIT trainer, she has trained officers from Wayne County Sheriff's Office, Wayne County Jail, Detroit Police Department, Canton Police Department and Northville Police Department in ways to intervene using trauma-informed policing.
“We use role plays and scenarios to teach police officers different ways of engaging with people,” says Price. “We connect them with other social service providers and clinicians — connections they never had before. We listen to their challenges. For example, police are frustrated when people ask them to address situations for which they are unprepared, such as mental health. To hear their desire to help but not knowing what to do is powerful for me. The general public has no idea there are officers trained in critical interventions and to connect with social services to access care. This is so critical right now.”
Between the pandemic and the protests in the wake of George Floyd’s brutal death, social workers have been called to action. We checked in with a number of students, alumni and community members to hear how they are putting their training into action these last several months. Read the stories of social work in action.
University of Michigan
School of Social Work
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