Dedicated to improving quality of life and human well-being, social workers use ecological, clinical, and biopsychosocial approaches to work at multiple levels of society, ranging from individuals and families to vulnerable groups, communities, organizations, institutions and public policy.
In the present there is a growing understanding of how the unmet social needs of humanity detract from health and produce inequitable health outcomes. Improving social conditions remains critical to improving health outcomes, and integrating social care into health care delivery becomes more relevant in the context of the pandemic of Covid-19.
There are several important components of social work in health care, including, but not limited to, public health social work and mental health social work. These subdisciplines within social work rely on interdisciplinary methods from social work, public health and mental health to achieve health equity and solve human health problems.
The special issue No. 4/2020 of the Social Work Review has welcomed contributions that fall under the broad area of social work in health care, with special attention given to public health social work and mental health social work. We have invited contributions corresponding to the following topics: needs identification and assessment; psychosocial support; patient education, advising, and counseling; investigation, referral and provision of access to health care and services; counseling and organization of support groups; advocacy; planning and coordination of health care and services; advising on social policy and community development; planning and implementation of programs to combat social problems and improve community health care and services; evaluation of health care practice and services; and quality-improvement methods and performance management in health care. We have to confess that we have been very impressed by the interest received given theCovid-19 pandemic.
The first article of the special issue (“The Coronavirus Pandemic: A Post-Normal Crisis that Generates Possible Scenarios for Structural Changes of the Society: the Romania Case” by Mădălina Hideg) focuses on the current crisis triggered by the coronavirus pandemic and presents four scenarios for structural changes that are analyzed within the Romanian context. The placement of this paper at the beginning of the special issue is a direct recognition of the importance of this topic and a way to start the issue with a “big picture” paper on the expected structural changes caused by the pandemic. Some of the questions raised by the pandemic include how the social work specialists manage stress and adapt to radical and unexpected changes. The last article from the special issue (“The Relationship between Coaching, Supervision and Stress Reduction in the Activity of Social Workers” by Florina Paşcu) provides an useful literature review on the roles of the supervisors to insure the “safety of the savior", their professional development and the role of coaching as an effective way of dealing with stress and managing change (due to the current pandemic or otherwise).
The following papers from the special issue address important topics related to children: abandoned newborn babies, children with parents working abroad and children placed in foster care. Based on the results of targeted qualitative research involving health professionals, the paper “The Abandonment of Newborn Babies in Hospitals from Romania” by Cristina Todiraşcu concludes that health related issues prevent children from being discharged and that minor girls in situations at risk are the main group of mothers who abandon their newborn babies. The situation of children with parents working abroad, specifically the implementation and application of social protection measures, the effects of child neglect by parents and the action of community actors involved in rural areas, is comprehensively analyzed in “The Health and Psycho-Social Development of Children with Parents Working Abroad. Case Study: Delegation of Parental Authority for Children from Rural Areas” by Gheorghiţa Nistor and Maria Diana Secară. The article “Self and Caregiver Assessment of Internalizing and Externalizing Problems of Romanian Children Placed in Foster Care” by Andreea Bîrneanu provides an assessment of the emotional, psychological and behavioral problems of children placed in foster care, that supports early behavior assessment and related development strategies of child protection services.
Another set of three papers from the special issue deals with topics related to mental health issues: suicide risk among prison inmates, game addiction, and anxiety of the elderly placed in residential care. The article “Suicide in Romanian Prisons: A 6-Year Retrospective Study” by Mihai-Bogdan Iovu and Ioana Mihaela Morar deals with a vulnerable group at high risk for suicide: the inmates. The paper provides important practical recommendations, including the identification of inmates with a high suicide risk and their provision with continues access to mental health services, not having suicidal inmates be alone in a cell, and the appropriate training of all prison staff. Although the results of the study presented in “Young Gamers: Their Motivation Behind the Play, Involvement and Time Spent In-Video Games” by Cosmin Gheţău and Paul Teodor Hărăguş do not indicate a correlation between pathological use and self-reported time spent in video games, they strongly indicate that more research is needed to better understand motivations underlying players’ gaming behavior. The article “Social Work Counseling – A Method to Reduce the Anxiety Level and to Improve the Mental Health of the Elderly Placed in Residential Care” by Alina Maria Breaz provides useful evidence that the Hamilton Scale for Anxiety is a useful instrument for measuring the anxiety of the elderly and evaluating the effectiveness of social work counseling programs in this specialized area of practice.
Moving away from the Romanian context, the article “Facets of Social Work in Shanghai, China” by Cosmin Goian, Magdalena Cristina Kiraly and Sînziana Preda describes how social work is perceived by ordinary citizens from Shanghai, especially the most well-known categories of beneficiaries of social services, i.e., children and the elderly. The special issues are ending with two book reviews. The first review, done by Oana-Lăcrămioara Bădărău, is for the book “Organization as Social Work Client in Managerial and Administrative Macro Practice. Case Studies”, coordinated by Nicoleta Neamţu, a comprehensive and up-to-date contribution to the field of Romanian Social Work. The second review, done by Eugen Glăvan, is for the volume “Social Policies in Romania after 30 years. Expectations and Answers”, edited by Elena Zamfir, Mălina Voicu and Simona Maria Stănescu, a competent and in-depth critical evaluation of social policies in post-December pre-pandemic Romania.
We strongly believe that the insightful analyses and thoughtful evaluations provided by the articles and book reviews included in this special issue are a great starting point for social changes at the deeper structural levels of the Romanian society, that will help the social workers fulfill their roles as agents of change in synergistic collaborations with other professionals, including public health and mental health professionals, during the current pandemic and beyond through the yet to be defined post-pandemic era.