The winter season can create challenges around mental health for many Ontarians. We may be affected by the reduced sunlight hours, or the weather can discourage us from participating in social activities. Some individuals are navigating challenging family dynamics during one of the many cultural holidays that take place around this time of year.
The Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers (OCSWSSW) currently regulates over 29,000 social workers and social service workers, the largest group of regulated mental health professionals in the province. By providing professional and ethical supports, social workers and social service workers can help Ontarians manage their mental health this winter and into the new year.
Rising mental health concerns
According to the Mental Health Commission of Canada, one in five Canadians experience a mental illness in any given year, and by the time Canadians reach 40 years of age, 50% have, or have previously had, a mental illness. The Canadian Mental Health Association notes that since the beginning of the pandemic, the demand for mental health support has increased by nearly 50% for adults and by more than 100% for children and youth. As a result, the demand for social workers and social service workers is at an all-time high across the province.
“Social workers and social service workers play a vital role in supporting the mental health of Ontarians,” said OCSWSSW Registrar & CEO Denitha Breau, RN, MSN, MBA. “Our registrants come from diverse backgrounds and work in a variety of settings where Ontarians can seek their professional support, including hospitals, schools, community services, employee assistance programs and in private practice. Good mental health is so important for our overall well-being. If you are experiencing seasonal challenges this winter, I encourage you to seek out the services of a regulated professional.”
The role of the OCSWSSW
Although the OCSWSSW has the word ‘College’ in its name, it is not a school. The OCSWSSW is the regulatory body that oversees all social workers and social service workers in Ontario. Only people registered with the OCSWSSW can call themselves a “social worker” or “social service worker.” The OCSWSSW’s role is to ensure that the public is supported by professional, ethical, qualified and accountable social workers and social service workers.
Ensure you are working with a regulated professional
As part of its public protection mandate, the OCSWSSW maintains an Online Register, which provides key information to help support Ontarians with accessing a social worker or social service worker. This online tool lists all registrants, their registration status, employment information and discipline history, if any, as well as other relevant information.
Ontarians working with, or who plan to work with, a mental health practitioner should always check the Online Register to ensure the practitioner is registered and accountable to the OCSWSSW. The OCSWSSW’s oversight ensures Ontarians are supported by professional, ethical and qualified social workers and social service workers.
All Ontarians deserve to be supported in their journeys to improve and sustain their mental wellbeing – social workers and social service workers can play an essential role in helping them manage their mental health this winter.
About the OCSWSSW
The Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers, which is accountable to the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services, is the regulatory body for social workers and social service workers in Ontario. Its mandate is to serve and protect the public from unqualified, incompetent and unfit practitioners. The OCSWSSW currently regulates over 29,000 social workers and social service workers across Ontario.