1. Registration Now Open for Social Work Hospice and Palliative Care General Assembly

    Professor Emerita Grace H. Christ, in her role of co-chair of the Social Work Hospice & Palliative Care Network (SWHPN), will be hosting a Social Work Hospice and Palliative Care General Assembly in Philadelphia on February 23-24, 2015, registration for which opened on October 1st. The event is being held in collaboration with the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (AAHPM) and the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association (HPNA).

    The theme of this year’s GA is “championing psychosocial care,” in recognition of the the strong and crucial role that psychosocial practitioners serve in palliative and hospice care.

    Dr. Christ recommends following the Palliative-SW Blog to keep abreast of news and advancements for social workers in the field of palliative and end-of-life care, and for updated conference information.

  2. The Linehan Institute Offers Resources for Each Day of Mental Illness Awareness Week

    Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you should be aware by now that we’re in the middle of Mental Illness Awareness Week (Oct 5-11, 2014). But did you also know that the Linehan Institute, which has pioneered Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) under Marcia Linehan, has been celebrating the week by issuing new resources each day?
    Monday: Mental Health Research
    Tuesday: Reducing Suffering
    Wednesday: Reducing Stigma
    Thursday: Skills for Life Improvement
    Friday: Building a Life Worth Living

    Professor André Ivanoff, who directs the DBT training program and laboratory at our school, also chairs the Linehan Institute’s board. She says she particularly recommends the first post in the series: an article reporting on this year’s DBT-Strategic Planning Meeting, which features interviews with two members of SPM’s Steering Committee: Drs. Alan Fruzetti and Martin Bohus.

    To access the article in full, go to the landing page and click on “Read More” under International DBT Researchers Use Science to Improve Therapy (Day 1).

  3. Doctoral Candidate Receives Characters Unite Award for Services to Coney Island

    Mathylde Frontus, a Ph.D. candidate at the Columbia School of Social Work, has been honored with a Characters Unite Award from the USA Network, for the wide array of social services provided by her nonprofit, Urban Neighborhood Services (UNS), to residents of Coney Island—including employment and housing search assistance, youth leadership and college prep initiatives, financial literacy, veterans support, health outreach and anti-violence activism.

    As a resident of Coney Island, Frontus realized early on that many of the ongoing issues in her community such as underdevelopment, health disparities, incarceration and poverty, were interrelated. Though she left home to study at Harvard, NYU and Columbia. she never relinquished her dream of opening a neighborhood agency. She returned to Coney Island and founded UNS in 2004.

    "It is an honor for me to be selected as one of the 2014 recipients of the USA Network Characters Unite Award," Frontus told us. "As someone who has been committed to community betterment and empowerment since I was an adolescent, I truly appreciate having the work that I’ve done in my own community of Coney Island for about 10 years recognized in this manner."

    She went on: “The social work education that I received from New York University and Columbia University really provided me with the tools needed to design and administer programs and services for thousands of families with various social needs.”

    Frontus is one of ten 2014 awardees who were selected from hundreds of nominees for their extraordinary efforts to combat hate, intolerance and discrimination, and making significant contributions to promoting greater tolerance, respect and acceptance in their communities.

    Honorees will be acknowledged during hometown award ceremonies and will receive $5,000 grants from USA Network and its distributor partners to support their projects or related nonprofit organizations. Additionally, they will be featured on-air in a PSA.

    Inspired by USA Network’s “Characters Welcome” brand and with the support of leading national nonprofits, the Characters Unite campaign is dedicated to supporting activities and messaging that combat prejudice and intolerance while promoting understanding and acceptance—on-air, online, and in communities across the country.

  4. Reddit’s ASK ME ANTHING! to Have Its First Social Work School Participant

    Dr. Katherine Shear, the Marion E. Kenworthy Professor of Psychiatry in Social Work and a world expert on complicated grief, will appear on reddit’s ASK ME ANYTHING! this Friday, October 3rd, 1:00-2:30 p.m. Spread the word (session is open to all reddit subscribers) and get those questions ready! (Hint: You may wish to ask her about her new study of complicated grief and the elderly, which had some spectacular findings…)

  5. Two CSSW Doctoral Grads Launch Academic Careers

    Two of CSSW’s doctoral graduates, Anne Deepak and Laura Tsai, have started the 2014-15 academic year with new jobs! Anne Deepak has been appointed as an associate professor in the Monmouth University School of Social Work in New Jersey, and Laura Tsai, as an assistant professor at George Mason University’s School of Health and Social Work. A big congratulations to them both!

  6. Moving Mountains on Behalf of Abused Clients: Kyle Gilrain’s Story

    The course of a social work career does not always run smooth, as CSSW alumnus Kyle Gilrain (MS’96) discovered when he took a job as staff therapist at the National Deaf Academy in Mount Dora, Florida. Noticing the abuse and neglect of patients, he tried reporting it but then was fired from his position. His successor, Carol Savage, likewise blew the whistle and was fired.

    Even after he left, Gilrain could not stop thinking about the children and disabled adults who were stuck in that facility and how much they deserved to have a safe, healthy environment to live in.

    In April 2013 he and Savage filed a lawsuit against the National Deaf Academy, documenting its many abuses, some of which had not been reported to authorities. The academy’s owner is Universal Health Services Inc., a publicly traded $7 billion+ Fortune 500 company. Although UHS Inc. immediately issued a statement defending the academy’s practices, in its 2014 Q2 SEC filings, UHS Inc. said it had been made aware that the academy is under criminal fraud investigation by the FBI/DOJ.

    Gilrain told us he had provided 1,000+ pages of supporting documentation to the FBI/DOJ. He has also assisted several lawyers who are suing the facility on behalf of patients and families. (Three more suits are about to be filed.)

    Interested in hearing Gilrain tell his story? He will be on NBC Nightly News on Sunday night, September 14th. “Stephanie Gosk came to Florida to interview me and the woman who replaced me, Carol Savage,” Gilrain said. UPDATE: Here is the link to the CBS story.

    He added that he credits the Columbia School of Social Work for teaching him how to be an effective advocate for his National Deaf Academy clients.

    In particular, the course “Practice 5: Influencing Organizations, Communities, and Social Policy” provided him with the framework he needed for the pursuit of social justice.

  7. An Alum Communicates Her Vision of Social Services in Schools

    Three cheers for Jenna Tutjer (MS’06)! She had a letter to the editor in the New York Times on Saturday Sept 6th referencing the Achievement Initiative she leads out of the School of Social Work. The letter concerns the crucial role social workers can play in schools.

    To learn more about Jenna’s program, watch this video made by CSSW communications, which includes interviews with a students from one of the Harlem high schools Jenna works with.

  8. A Cool Image for the End of Summer!

    Here at the Columbia School of Social Work, we like to say we’re making waves, as in standing up and advocating on behalf of those who don’t usually advocate for themselves.

    Kim Kepich, who completed her M.S. in clinical social work at our school, is not only making waves, she’s riding them! With her sister Jill, she runs the Surfing the Dream surf school in NJ. But as she told an NJ community newspaper, social work is never far from her thoughts: “Social work is a big help in understanding the feelings of surfing, which helps deal with depression and anxiety. I try to incorporate my education to promote relaxation and a healthy mind in conjunction with surfing,”

  9. Professor Mike MacKenzie’s Letter to the Editor on Ferguson

    Columbia School of Social Work Professor Mike MacKenzie was one of the first to weigh in on the police behavior in Ferguson, Missouri, with a letter to the editor of the New York Times that got published in print last weekend and is the second on this Opinion page, headlined “A Nation Shocked by Ferguson, Mo”.

  10. Alumna Terrie Williams Calls Robin Williams’ Death a “Wake-up Call”

    In this article for CNN Opinion, author, publicist & mental health advocate Terrie Williams (MS’77) says she can relate to Williams’s struggles through the lens of her own experience:

    For me, depression has been part of my journey for a very long time. … I learned to dance the dance, to smile for my friends, for my parents, for the audience, for the camera. I smiled, all while inside a hurricane was sweeping me into an ocean of darkness.”
    At the same time, she acknowledges that every human being “is dealing with their own stuff behind their own mask.”