National Social Worker Month, observed every March, is a time to honor and celebrate the invaluable contributions of social workers to our communities. From empowering individuals and families to navigating complex systems, social workers embody compassion, resilience, and a steadfast commitment to fostering positive change. As we acknowledge National Social Worker Month, we not only express gratitude for their unwavering dedication but also underscore the importance of their role as champions of change! We’re spotlighting three of Magellan Health’s social workers so continue reading to learn more about their experiences:

  • Erin Mason, MSW, LCSW, Licensed Care Coordinator
  • Julie Mattingly, MSW, LCSW, Senior Care Manager
  • Madeline Adams, MSW, LCSW, Clinical Manager, Employee Center of Excellence

Why did you become a social worker and what is the most rewarding aspect of working in this field? 

Erin: I have always really enjoyed working with people and helping others. I chose to earn a Master of Social Work specifically because it presented opportunities to influence change at the individual, group, and system level. I felt that it had the most diverse opportunities and made the best use of my different skills. I also was drawn to the ethics that guide our profession. It has been rewarding to see how those ethics drive social progress and foster individual achievement. I have been very fortunate to be a part of innovative programs that expand access to diverse populations, including the collaborative care program at Magellan Health. Whether it’s helping connect one member to care or looking at the total population served in a pilot project, seeing the results of improved access is what I find most rewarding.

Julie: I knew from early age that I would be a social worker. I used to go with my mom to visit residents of a local nursing home and deliver Meals on Wheels to the homebound. The most rewarding part of being a social worker is knowing I made a positive difference, for a person, family, or community.

Madeline: I originally wanted to be a lawyer. As I was studying pre-law at the Legal Studies Degree Program at Webster University, the more I learned about our laws and the history of oppression in America, the more I just wanted to help. I switched to a major in political science and history and began working with juvenile offenders in Missouri after graduating. My work supervising and providing treatment to juvenile offenders led me to pursue a master’s in social work. The most rewarding aspect of working in this field is when you get to see a successful outcome from an intervention you implemented.

What are some challenges you face being a social worker and how do you overcome them?

Erin: Sometimes, the sheer need of the world can be exhausting. People are not always able to make changes, or the supports they need are not available. I try to focus on what I can offer. Social workers are often the people bringing hope or comfort to a person in an otherwise difficult situation. In addition to knowledge and skills, I can offer compassion and kindness to those individuals. I can advocate for those that may not have a voice. Working closely with my peers and other team members helps me remember I am never on my own. Their experience can help me when I feel unsure of how to move forward.

Julie: Actually, earning an MSW was a challenge. I was a single mom at the time and grad school is expensive. I worked three part-time jobs my first year of grad school. Keeping up with required continuing education is vital for my growth as a social worker but it can be difficult to find challenging and new coursework that is relevant to my work.

Madeline: My biggest challenge as a social worker has always been practicing healthy boundaries with my work. Whether working for the federal government, state government, a nonprofit, or a corporation, our work is never-ending. I constantly must remind myself that everything is not urgent, some things can wait, and some things will never get done and it will be okay.  As someone who likes to cross every “T” and dot every “I”, I must constantly work at monitoring my own temperature and practicing healthy boundaries. When I’m overdoing it, I call myself crispy, and my body lets me know I’m overcooked by giving me sleepless nights, body aches, migraines and a short fuse.

Is there anything you’d like to highlight about working in this field?

Erin: For me and most of my peers, social work is not just a job, it is a set of ethics and beliefs about humanity. I am proud to be a social worker, in which we concern ourselves with the most vulnerable populations, the larger systems and the way people are impacted by their environment. It is based on a frame of reference that understands people are limited by their circumstances and values their self-efficacy.

Julie: When you ask someone what a social worker does, you’ll get different answers from different people. That’s because for a social worker, the actual job can vary widely. There are medical social workers; administrative social workers; clinical social workers; school social workers and many other social work positions.

Madeline: It’s that moment in your interaction when you have planted a seed but also get to watch it begin to grow.  When you see that little stem of energy coming out of the dirt and muck yet pointing up toward the sun in search of light, this is the reward. You can see their resilience and have steered them in the right direction during a time when they didn’t know where to turn.

What does National Social Worker Month mean to you? 

Erin: I think National Social Worker Month is a great time to reflect on my chosen profession and to celebrate my peers and our predecessors. It is a time to think about how I am applying my ethics and skills in my daily practice.

Julie: National Social Worker month started in 1984. It’s a month to celebrate where we’ve come from and where we’re going as social workers.

Madeline: National Social Work Month is a time for us to celebrate the important work we do and highlight our achievements. It’s crucial we promote the good work we do to help uplift each other and continue doing this important work.