Thanks to the support of the social work department chair, Lauren Renkert, and the expertise of Annette Ward, LCSW, the Social Work Care Collaborative was established in the spring semester of 2019 through the IHHS Interprofessional Clinic. The Collaborative was created to support members of our community while providing students with a quality field experience with activities on the individual, group, community, and organizational levels.
Ward, who began her career as a lecturer in the Department of Social Work in 2012, worked with her students to build a team to provide care and to collaborate with others. Before coming to Appalachian State University, Ward worked in the mental health field and had seen first hand the service gaps, in particular in the areas of case management. Working with the IHHS Interprofessional Clinic and her students, Ward was able to address some of the service needs in our community, while providing social work students with field experiences by helping them to establish the Social Work Care Collaborative.
Last year Ward and her colleagues in the Department of Social Work began to discuss the overwhelming mental health needs of App State students, especially with the added challenges associated with the COVID pandemic. Although she and her team did not want to duplicate the student counseling services already being offered on campus, they found several ways they could collaborate with the counseling center and begin to fill in some of the gaps. In February 2021, they began to offer case management services and supportive counseling to App students. Since that time they have added additional services like student support groups, additional psychoeducational programs, and Residential Assistant support and training sessions.
Today the Social Work Care Collaborative is generally run by the Department of Social Work’s undergraduate and graduate students, with supervision provided by Ward and Dr. Ben Alexander-Eitzman, associate professor with the Department of Social Work. According to Ward, “We started planning what we could do in terms of an internship where we could create a place for students to be able to apply what they’re learning in their classes and the field while addressing service gaps in our community. We now have multiple initiatives we support, with three new initiatives started just this semester.” To learn more about the programs offered, please visit the Social Work Care Collaborative’s website.