Sunday, February 22, 2015

Professional Development: Webinar: Bringing Knowledge Full Circle: Aboriginal Children’s EDI Data and Community Stories

Human Early Learning Project (HELP) presents

Bringing Knowledge Full Circle: Aboriginal Children’s EDI Data and Community Stories

Date & Time: Thu, Feb 26, 2015 1:00 PM - 3:00 PM PST

This is the second of four webinars in the HELP and Success by 6 Winter Webinar Series: Research to Action. Bringing Knowledge Full Circle: Aboriginal Children’s EDI Data and Community Stories will showcase HELP’s Aboriginal-specific EDI data holdings. Joseph Dunn, Provincial Director, Success by 6 BC, and Kim Bayer, HELP's Aboriginal Community Liaison Coordinator, will share information about HELP's Aboriginal data, the role of the HELP Aboriginal Steering Committee is supporting this work, and how Aboriginal Early Years Tables across the province are working with this research data to support community planning.

Global: Social Work Growing in Nepal

Social Work Growing in Nepal

By Dr Rory Truell, Secretary-General for The International Federation of Social Workers.
Retrieved from:
13 February 2015

Nepal is a country in transition and social workers are playing a significant role in advocating for rights-based and capacity building social protection systems. It was a great privilege to be invited by the of Social Workers Association of Nepal (SWAN) to visit many social work projects, advocate with government representatives, and partake in discussions on the development of social work education that will expand the workforce.

Social work in Nepal is relatively new. A handful of pioneers have championed the need to develop social work education and training over the past two decades and now the profession is developing momentum.

There are many social challenges in Nepal. Its population of 26 million comprises of over 130 ethnic groups, 90 languages and isolated rural communities living in poverty. Many populations hold to ancient practices as their only option for survival, and often the rights of women and children have not advanced. Nepalese social workers however are striving for a new society that is based on balance of both their cultural values and the rights of all members of the community.

One social work initiated project I had the pleasure to visit was the community radio station network. The network reaches communities that cannot be easily be accessed by road and is broadcast in all the nations languages. The network explicitly based on human rights and development provides a mix of entertainment and interactive social discussion. To populations that cannot read or write, that have no access to television or the internet, the radio provides the only link to new ideas and concepts of social change.

Punkkali and Liaisa from the remote Kalokot district said: “We like the news but also the educational programmes which challenge what used to be taboos. It was through the radio we learnt the women should not be kept in isolation during menstruation. Also child marriage used to be common; children would be married as early as at the age of 12 or even 10. We rarely see that anymore. As women, we no longer want our children to marry young. That is a great extent thanks to the information we have had through the radio”, they said.

The radio network promotes democracy and advocates for women’s involvement in politics. In a country that legally restricts women’s political involvement to no more than 33% of elected officials, the social workers have a big challenge. “We wanted to counter the myth that women cannot take leadership positions and action with out men” said Kamala Kadel, one of the radio networks founders. The people that listen to the radio feel that it is theirs. They contribute to the programmes via SMS and take action on the information.
SWAN has only recently formed (joining IFSW in 2014) but it signifies a major milestone in the professional development of social Work in Nepal. The Association President Dr Dilli Ram Adhikari said, ‘The challenges that now lie ahead are to create consistency and common standards in social work education and practice, and to encourage the government to recognise that social workers add significant value not just in human terms but also to running a healthy society’.

The international social work community will continue to support Nepalese social workers in advancing their profession and we will continue to learn from them with the innovative models that they have developed.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Critical Analysis: Are We Witnessing a New Wave of Social Darwinism?

Are We Witnessing a New Wave of Social Darwinism?

Lewis Jr., C. (2015). Social Work Helper. Retrieved from:

Nineteenth century British philosopher and sociologist Herbert Spencer was the first to coin the term “survival of the fittest.” The idea, also referred to as natural selection, suggests that some individuals are better suited to overcome the challenges and exploit the opportunities within their environments and would thus thrive in situations where others may falter.

Nations with better armies would prevail over those that were less prepared. People with ingenuity would do better in the free market system. On the surface these are seemingly reasonable ideas until they are applied to the genetic or cultural inferiority of groups of people. Inequalities and oppressive policies are often justified because it was believed that certain people could not function adequately in society and would squander valuable resources. Thus we were able to live with slavery, poverty, and inhumane treatment of the mentally ill.

This pernicious thinking—that these fatally flawed beings are a dredge on society which would be better off without them—leads to injustice. It justifies rejection efforts to prop them up—affirmative action, remedial education—as useless and a waste of precious resources. These ideas were thought to be an extension of the concepts Charles Darwin published in his classic tome, On the Origin of Species. Darwin, of course, was writing about plant life.

When Columbia University historian Richard Hofstadter published the book Social Darwinism in American Thought, 1860 – 1915, in 1944 he ignited a firestorm of debate about whether Darwin’s ideas were permeating the political processes in the United States. During that period, America was steamrolling to historic levels of inequality that culminated in what Mark Twain coined the Gilded Age—the three decade period at the end of the 19th century that saw unprecedented economic inequality with the wealthiest two percent of Americans owning more than a third of the nation’s wealth and the richest 10 percent holding approximately three-quarters of the nation’s wealth.

Defenders of the status quo—those who did not see any harm in economic inequality—denied that the concept of social Darwinism was at work in America. Those in power believed they belonged in power and used their resources to maintain their hegemony. That pretty much describes the America of today where we have witnessed over the past three decades the share of wealth of the top 0.1 percent grow from seven percent to 22 percent.

During the past several decades the supply-side economic theories of Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman have informed tax policies that have greatly favored the wealthy. Income taxes were lowered for the highest earners while capital gains were taxed even lower. The idea was to spur new industry and higher economic growth and the economic gains would eventually “trickle down” to the middle and lower income groups in the form of more and better paying jobs.

Never happened. Coupled with the virtual elimination of inheritance taxes except for the wealthiest, the seeds of plutocracy have been sown. Add to those policies Supreme Court decisions removing restrictions on political contributions and we are living in a time when the Koch brothers are ready to commit $1 billion to elect the next president of the United States.

Is this social Darwinism at work? When the “47 percent” are vilified as moochers and takers how does that translate into policies? Is it surprising that as economic inequality has soared, there has been a concurrent assault on the social safety net? Draconian welfare reform targeted poor mothers as the problem rather than people struggling to make a living and singlehandedly raise their children.

Are we surprised by policies that slash food stamps for the hungry, Pell grants for low-income students, and attacks Supplemental Security Income for the disabled? The assault continues on labor unions—particularly public service unions. Wages remain stagnant even as corporations enjoy record profits and off-shore trillions of dollars. Where does this all lead? What kind of society are we creating for our children? What is the tipping point when we truly become an oligarchy?

Lawrence Lessig, on C-SPAN discussing his campaign to get 34 states to call for a constitutional convention to address corruption in American politics, referenced a study that found 96 percent of Americans believe money has a corrupting influence on our society. However, 91 percent believed nothing can be done about it. I imagine there were many who believed nothing could be done about slavery or that women would never be able to vote or that same-sex couples would never be able to legally marry.

Changing our society is the grand challenge for social work but not for social workers alone. However, we must be part of the solution or we will be part of the problem if we just help people cope with the status quo.

Professional Development: Maple Ridge, BC

WJS Canada Training Division

Professional Development Workshops

For more Information:
In the 02/20/2015 edition:

First Aid/CPR For Community Care Workers ~ Maple Ridge

By *WJS Canada Training Division* on Feb 17, 2015 04:39 am

Read in browser »

Cracking the Code on Batterers: Understanding Motives & Connection to Risk

By *WJS Canada Training Division* on Feb 17, 2015 12:58 am

Read in browser »

COMMUNITY: Introduction to Shared Living (Home Share)

By *WJS Canada Training Division* on Feb 13, 2015 05:25 am

Read in browser »

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder: The Invisible Disability ~ Maple Ridge

By *WJS Canada Training Division* on Feb 16, 2015 08:30 am

Read in browser »

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Media: Mental Health Film night:The Weight of Elephants - Feb. 18th

The Weight of Elephants
Wednesday, February 18, 2015 - 7:30pm

New Zealand/Denmark/Sweden 2013. Dir: Daniel Joseph Borgman. 87 min. DCP

VANCOUVER PREMIERE! Premiered in both the Forum and Generation sections of the Berlin IFF, this worthy addition to the coming-of-age genre is the assured, poetic feature debut of New Zealand-raised, Denmark-based writer-director Borgman. Lars von Trier’s company Zentropa co-produced the film, which was shot in rural New Zealand. Eleven-year-old Adrian (the amazing Demos Murphy, who won the role over 800 other boys) is an introspective, sensitive child bullied at school and neglected at home. Abandoned by his mother early in life, Adrian is being brought up by his gruff, exhausted Gran, who is also caring for a bipolar adult son, Adrian’s much-loved Uncle Rory. The story centres on Adrian’s burgeoning friendship with the mysterious girl who just moved in across the street — an outsider like himself, who also has secrets to hide.

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Post-screening discussion with Dr. Karin Holland Biggs, Ph.D., FIPA, a psychoanalyst and member of the Western Branch of the Canadian Psychoanalytic Society. She is in private practice in Richmond, BC, specializing in psychoanalysis and the psychodynamic psychotherapy treatment of adult individuals and couples. Karin is a Clinical Instructor in the UBC Department of Psychiatry and a psychodynamic psychotherapy supervisor for psychiatry residents.

Moderated by Dr. Harry Karlinsky, Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of British Columbia.


Frames of Mind is a monthly film event utilizing film and video to promote professional and community education on issues pertaining to mental health and illness.

All screenings are at Pacific Cinematheque Theatre 1131 Howe St, Vancouver, BC and are held on the 3rd Wednesday of each month.

Each evening event is eligible for 1.0 hour Section 1 of the Royal College's Maintenance of Certification Program.

Clinical: Alcohol and Prescription Drug Use in Older Adulthood

Alcohol and Prescription Drug Use in Older Adulthood

Substance abuse, specifically alcohol and prescription drug use, is one of the most rapidly growing healthcare problem for older adults, 60 years of age and older in Canada and the United States. Researchers project a 3-fold increase in substance abuse in adults aged 50 and older by 2020.

Consequently, an estimated 5 million older adults will require treatment for substance abuse problems in the near future. Researchers are only beginning to recognize the prevalence of substance abuse among people age 60 years of age and older as alcohol and prescription drug use in older adults was seldom discussed until recently.

Substance use and misuse place older adults at risk for a variety of possible clinical dangers, contributing to increased use of healthcare resources and a need for age-specific interventions with the increased proportion of older adults living in North American society. Presently, the misuse of prescription and over-the-counter medications is recognized as a problem.

However, baby boomers are expected to have had more contact with illicit substances (ie. marijuana, hashish, cocaine (including crack), inhalants, hallucinogens, heroin and prescription-type drugs used non-medically) than past and present cohorts of older adults. Illicit drugs may also be increasing in a small percentage of older adults.

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that illicit drug use by adults 55 to 59 has increased from 1.9% in 2002 to 5.0% in 2008, which depicts the potential for growth in illicit drug use in the baby boomer cohort. However, illicit drug use in older adults is typically linked to individuals who are lifelong drug users.

In addition, approximately 15% of individuals 65 years of age and older living in the community are at risk for alcohol abuse or dependence and 50% of individuals living in personal care homes drink moderately or are dependent on alcohol. However, only 90% of individuals who are at risk for alcohol abuse or dependence do not receive alcohol treatment services.

Therefore substance abuse services in the future will need to anticipate and acknowledge problems with the use and misuse of both licit and illicit substances in older adulthood. However, due to insufficient knowledge, limited research data, and limited and rushed healthcare visits and appointments, healthcare providers often overlook substance abuse and misuse among older adults. Therefore, despite the number of older adults experiencing problems related to substance use, the situation remains underestimated, underidentified, underdiagnosed and undertreated.

The reasons for the inability to acknowledge substance use problems in older adults are due to many factors. First, healthcare providers often overlook substance abuse and misuse among older individuals, as their symptoms are often mistaken for depression, dementia and health problems common to old age such as falling, infections or digestive difficulties.

Second, older adults may also hide their substance use and are less likely to seek help for their problems with substance use. Third, many family members of older adults with substance use, particularly adult children, are often embarrassed of their family members’ problems which often results in their inability to seek treatment.

As a result, thousands of older adults who need treatment never go, and the number of substance abusers among older adults continue to rise. Healthcare professionals must acknowledge that older adults’ struggles with substance abuse are becoming a prevalent issue and the stigma associated with these issues must be addressed as well.

Healthcare professionals must acknowledge that older adults’ struggles with substance abuse are becoming a prevalent issue and the stigma associated with these issues must be addressed as well. Mental health practitioners should also receive specific training and education to develop sensitivity towards these issues.

Global: IFSW Europe Newsletter

IFSW (Dec. 2014). Retrieved from: