Maya Kagan (Ariel University)
Topic: Factors explaining the self-reported likelihood of seeking help from social workers during the COVID-19 pandemic
Thematic area: (Mental) Health and Social Work
Research conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic reported that the many challenges stemming from the disrupted routine, loss of jobs, economic decline, and social isolation are significant threats to people’s physical and mental health and their personal and social functioning.
People worldwide reported a rise in perceived loneliness, uncertainty, loss of control, and severe stress and anxiety symptoms. For a considerable part of these challenges, it is possible to receive assistance from social workers (SWs), who as part of their professional role provide responses to individuals, families, and the community for an array of crucial needs, as well as help with enhancing and resuming coping and functioning capabilities.
Therefore, the current study examined the contribution of select demographic and psychosocial variables, as well as prior experience with SWs, to explain the likelihood of seeking help from the general public in Israel during the COVID-19 pandemic.
For the purpose of the study, an online questionnaire was administered to a sample of 582 respondents older than 20. The findings show that the respondents reported a fairly low likelihood of seeking help from SWs. Women, those not in a significant relationship, people who had prior experience with Social Workers, and those reporting higher levels of loneliness, had a higher likelihood of seeking help from SWs.
At the same time, no association was found between age, employment status, depression, anxiety, and the likelihood of seeking help from SWs. When dealing with the mental, health, and social consequences of the COVID-19 crisis, it is important to identify groups with a lower likelihood of seeking help from Social Workers and to actively offer them help.
Furthermore, it is important to develop a policy aimed at promoting knowledge of social workers’ roles and reducing barriers to seeking SWs help, while attending to the unique needs of diverse population groups