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Social work dean at the White House

Barbara Shank, dean of the School of Social Work, in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building next to the West Wing.
Barbara Shank, dean of the School of Social Work, in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building next to the West Wing.
Photo courtesy of Lisa Richardson.

Barbara Shank, dean of the School of Social Work, was among an estimated 160 social work educators and practitioners at a White House briefing hosted by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) on September 25.

The briefing focused on “Addressing the Social Determinants of Health in a New Era: The Role of Social Work Education.” Shank, recently elected chairwoman of the CSWE Board of Directors (July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2016), was invited to moderate one of four panels.

Her panel — “A National Dialogue on Mental Health” — addressed President Obama’s commitments to ensuring access to behavioral health services and enhancing the mental health workforce. Shank’s panel included a presentation by Paolo del Vecchio, director of the Center of Mental Health Services at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

“The topic of mental health is apropos of our curriculum here.” says Lisa Richardson, director of Master of Social Work (MSW) Field Education and assistant professor of social work, “as our MSW program has a focus on clinical social work.”

The joint MSW program between St. Catherine University and University of St. Thomas prepares graduates to develop and implement clinical interventions, to evaluate relevant client outcomes and to integrate macro perspectives in clinical work. Additionally, graduates learn to deal with patient problems that include mental illness, developmental disabilities, poverty, discrimination and oppression.

The other three panels, which also included White House and federal agency officials, were:

• Shifting U.S. Demographics: Ensuring Care for All

• The New Expectations for Health Care

• Building Capacity to Meet the Need

CSWE is a nonprofit national association representing more than 2,500 individual members, as well as 500 undergraduate and 232 graduate programs of professional social work education. It was founded in 1952 and is the sole accrediting agency for social work education in the United States.

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Sep. 30, 2013 by Pauline Oo

See also: Faculty, Healthcare, Leadership, Social Justice