Social Workers Act as a Bridge for People in Need to Thrive

Woman with glasses and a clipboard talking to another woman.Monarch Behavioral Health Therapist Gayle Van Horn believes seeing social work in action is one of the most rewarding professional aspects of her career: “When clients use the tools they learn, and thrive, it is all worth it. Then, they can pass on what they have learned to others to help them thrive as well.”

Gayle is one of Monarch’s therapists working on the Mecklenburg Behavioral Health Outpatient Clinic team providing individual therapy, assessments and group therapy to individuals seeking mental health support.

Working as a therapist, Gayle enjoys serving “clients from diverse areas and empowering them to use learned tools and resources to accomplish their goals and dreams.”

National Social Work Month is recognized in March with this year’s theme “Social Work Breaks Barriers” highlighting how social workers have empowered people and communities to overcome hurdles.

Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Behavioral Health, Lyndril Leonard, MA, LCMHC, explains that there are a range of social work careers such as child welfare social workers, school social workers, forensic social workers, mental health social workers among other roles.

In the mental health setting, social workers reach and serve populations who have mental illness, intellectual and developmental disabilities, substance use disorders and traumatic brain injuries. Lyndril further explains that mental health social workers typically help clients deal with relationship problems, depression and other mood disorders, anxiety disorders, anti-social behavior and chronic mental health conditions.

“Social workers have the opportunity to heal and improve the lives of the people we serve every day,” she notes, adding that social workers serve in a variety of different roles within Monarch, helping to meet basic and complex needs of people served, especially the poor, oppressed and most vulnerable.

Lyndril says that social workers serve as a bridge connecting people in need with the skills and resources to be both emotionally and physically healthy. “We address not only mental health needs but assess the whole person and collaborate with other disciplines to promote the best possible outcomes,” she reasons. “Social workers also look at the social determinants of health that influence where and how people live, learn, work and play, which can impact health as much as medication does.”

The following are some insights from Monarch social workers.

Elzetter Norris, MA Ed., NCC, LCMHCA, LCAS-A, TF-CBT, Behavioral Health Therapist

Elzetter, who has been at Monarch just under a year, became interested in social work while as a high school teacher. “Seeing the needs of youth, the family and the community as a whole” she says served as the main reason for seeking employment in social work.
“The most rewarding part of my career, serving those with mental health struggles, is seeing the magic that can happen in a therapeutic environment, leading to an internal healing that extends outward, quite often to all aspects of an individual’s life,” she explains.

Advancements since the pandemic, Elzetter believes, have made strides in reducing the stigma associated with reaching out for mental health help. “In my time as a therapist, I have seen virtual services become normalized, thereby allowing more access to mental health care and in many ways reducing the stigma of getting help,” she observes.

Lindsey Stephens, Jr., MA, LCMHCA, NCC, CSC, Intensive In-Home Service (IIHS) Team Lead

Lindsey, who began working for Monarch as a qualified professional on the IIHS team, says a personal calling drew him to social work. “With IIH, it’s empathizing with the youth and the families through the hardships and the struggles they experience. I want to educate them on how to care for themselves and seek resources for further assistance when needed,” he shares.

Lindsey is glad to see that the recent pandemic has made talking about mental health topics a bit easier but believes that a stigma still remains. “In social work, there seems to be more of a focus on how to assist someone discovering their abilities to thrive rather than a fixation on their diagnoses,” he observes, suggesting continued mental health conversations with family, friends and neighbors to help in reducing stigma.

Julia Oesterle, MSW, LCSW, Behavioral Health Therapist

As a therapist, Julia says it is a privilege to meet people supported, hear their stories and see themes in mental health struggles that they are experiencing.
Seeing telehealth become well accepted during and after the pandemic is an advancement, she notes. The virtual therapy option continues to break down barriers for people who need support and who would not otherwise choose or seek it.

Julia looks at the success stories of her patients as motivation. She tells of a mother who lost her son and struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder. Through the therapy journey, Julia tells that she was able to express a full range of emotions and recognize triggers that caused flashbacks.

“She left therapy with tools to handle some struggles in her life, but more importantly, she left with greater confidence and more hope for handling these challenges in the future,” she notes. “The impact of the therapeutic relationship in helping her make that progress is the reason I value this work and the people I’m privileged to support.”

Pam Moore, MA, LCSW, Behavioral Health Therapist

Pam said she fell in love with social work as a residential counselor at a group home for adolescent teens in Boston. This interest motivated her to earn her master’s degree and she has since worked primarily in outpatient settings.

“I love my position as a therapist and enjoy seeing people thrive, recognize their strengths, gain insight into their patterns of behavior and empower them to live their best life.” She notes.

For more information about social work positions available across Monarch service areas, visit here.

Posted on: Thursday March 9, 2023