If you have ever received support from a social worker or mental health professional, you’ll probably have a story about how that care and assistance has bettered your life in some way. These practitioners and care professionals provide vital help for individuals who have often found themselves in difficult or even dire circumstances. Oftentimes this process can turn your life completely around and create solid footing and opportunity where there may have been none otherwise.
Our mental health carers and social workers deserve to be acknowledged. But what is the best way to do that?
Here are some tactics and ideas you can consider if you have a social worker or mental health worker in your life that you’d like to honor and celebrate.
Tried and True: Cards, Gifts, and Flowers
Sometimes the simplest strategy can be the most effective one. Humans have been using gifts as a display of gratitude for a very long time – and the reason for this is because it works.
Could you get a card and write a note to your social worker or mental health worker explaining just how much they have helped you and bettered your life? Could you order flowers to be delivered to their workplace? Could you give or include a gift card to a nearby store or restaurant? This is an especially effective strategy if you already know of a brand they like or a place they might frequent. Did they always bring Starbucks to your meetings? Do they wear a certain brand of clothing?
A personal touch like this can go a long way in communicating your appreciation.
Note: The only complication with this method is that sometimes regulations or workplace rules prevent social workers or mental health workers from accepting gifts from clients. If you’re not sure, try asking their supervisor and sharing what you’d like to do to make sure it won’t cause any problems before you get a gift.
According to surveys, healthcare professionals often feel a lack of recognition in their day-to-day work. Sometimes, simply arranging that your social worker or mental health carer is given recognition amongst their coworkers or organization can actually be a very moving and meaningful gift. Could you send a letter to his or her supervisor sharing what a difference he or she has made in your life? If applicable and appropriate, could you share a story with the local press extolling their work?
This is another strategy that would be advisable to run past his or her supervisor first to make sure it doesn’t cause any problems with their confidentiality or working regulations. But in cases where this can be done, a little recognition can immensely encourage a social worker or mental health worker that invests countless amounts of care and energy into a job that can often be difficult and draining.
Social Media Shares, Promotion, and Awareness
Some organizations can use all the help they can get in promoting their services and getting the word out about their work. If your social or mental health worker belongs to an organization like this or if he or she operates independently and markets their own services, sharing those offerings with your social media networks can provide a hugely helpful and practical gift that will benefit their livelihood as well as make more people aware of the often life-changing benefits available through working with them.
If you think this might be a good option, check with your social or mental health worker if this could benefit them or their organization. If so, ask them if they have a media kit or links and images they’d like shared with your connections.
Another strategy for giving back and showing appreciation for your social or mental health worker is by organizing a donation drive for his or her organization or for a cause they care about. Inviting friends, connections, and networks to join you in giving back or supporting a worthy cause, especially in your social or mental health worker’s honor, can pay forward the help and benefits you’ve received and encourage your social or mental health worker in the process.
Best Strategy: Ask Them!
These ideas can each provide a great place to start. However, sometimes the best method for finding a way to show your appreciation in a way your social or mental health worker will truly enjoy is simply to ask them.
What would truly make them smile? What would help and rejuvenate them? What would provide bottom-line benefits to their work or employing organization? Their answer might be something you expected – but sometimes people can surprise you. Asking them directly can be a way to provide something that will truly help them.
If you don’t want to blow a surprise or if it feels tacky to ask them directly, try reaching out to someone that knows them for ideas. This could be someone else that works at their organization, a supervisor, a work contact, or a friend, spouse, or family member if you happen to know any of their personal connections. You could also ask a different practitioner that has a similar role for his or her thoughts.
However, you decide to do it, showing appreciation for your social or mental health worker can be an incredible way of giving back and encouraging a person that has made a huge impact on your life. It’s never too late to show how much he or she has meant to you.