March 7 to 13 is Social Work Week in Ontario

Social Work Week is an opportunity for the profession to come together, advance our shared goals through collective advocacy, and celebrate and spotlight social workers’ essential contributions towards ensuring mental health access, support, and recovery for all Ontarians.

To all of the social workers, students, political leaders, organizations and individuals who helped celebrate and spotlight the essential contributions of social workers like never before – we thank you!

#MoreThanEver
Taking Action on Mental Health

This March 7 to 13, over 20,000 Registered Social Workers across Ontario are celebrating Social Work Week.

This year’s campaign comes at a pivotal moment for mental health. Two years into the pandemic, Ontarians are navigating the mental health impacts of anxiety, stress, and burnout like never before. Across the province, the country and the globe, people are looking for hope and for signs of brighter days as they navigate complex challenges and an even more complicated world.

There has never been a more critical time to come together to advance mental health access for all.


Our 2022 Social Work Week theme of #MoreThanEver speaks to this unprecedented need for mental health and addictions support across the province, and the vital role of social workers in ensuring mental health access for all Ontarians.

More than ever, I am proud of the tremendous dedication of social workers across the province, who are working tirelessly to support Ontarians' mental health and well-being. The past weeks and months have been particularly difficult for many of us – and now more than ever, it’s critical that we take care of ourselves, and each other.

Social workers have been on the frontlines of mental health access, support and recovery. It’s what we do. And while we clearly understand that social workers are essential providers of mental health supports, we’re encouraged to know that Ontarians do too.

Our recent Leger Poll uncovered new data about Ontarians’ mental health, with many reporting a decline in their own or their loved ones’ mental health in the past year. The survey also revealed surprising new insights on the pandemic’s far-reaching mental health impacts for adults, caregivers, families and workers.

Importantly, social workers across the province should know that 4 in 5 Ontarians agree that the work you do is essential to our mental health recovery. Ontarians have shared that in health care, long-term care, schools, community mental health, addictions support, private practice and more, social workers are providing them with hope, and with the tools and skills they need to cope.

Finally, while Ontarians overwhelmingly believe mental health supports should be made available to those that need it, less than a third believe these supports are easily accessible.

In a few short months, Ontarians are heading to the polls. While we we’ve seen significant investments in mental health and addictions supports in recent years, we know that people across the province need more supports, and that they need them sooner.

Now more than ever, it’s time to take action on mental health. This Social Work Week, I am calling on social workers and our colleagues across Ontario to join in our advocacy and advance our shared message of ensuring mental health access for all.

To get there will take everyone, including employers, funders, policy-makers, and Ontario’s 20,000+ social workers, working together to ensure that the supports Ontarians want and need are truly within reach.

On behalf of OASW and our over 8,000 members, thank you for taking part in this year's Social Work Week and thank you for standing alongside us. Your support is critical, now more than ever.

Deepy Sur, MSW, PhD, RSW
CEO, Ontario Association of Social Workers


Eighty Percent of Ontarians Think Mental Health Support Vital to Move Past the Pandemic, But Less Than One-Third Feel Supports are Accessible

Survey Confirms Nine in 10 Ontarians Agree Province Needs to Make Supports Available to Those Needing Them

March 7, 2022, TORONTO, ON ― A survey, commissioned by the Ontario Association of Social Workers (OASW) and released today in honour of Social Work Week (March 7-13), reveals four-in-ten (38%) Ontarians report their mental health was negatively impacted in the past year, with 14% reporting that supporting a friend or family member experiencing declining mental health has impacted their own mental health. The survey also revealed eight in ten Ontarians think mental health support is vital to move beyond the pandemic, but less than one third feel supports are accessible.


"We know the pandemic's mental health effects on children and long-term care residents, but the shock waves for adults, caregivers, families and workers are also real and far-reaching," says OASW's Chief Executive Officer, Deepy Sur. "Whether you call it an echo or parallel pandemic, we’re in the midst of a mounting crisis, and it’s imperative that we make mental health and addictions supports available for Ontarians reporting the greatest mental health declines, and for those struggling with impacts on work."

The survey conducted by Leger revealed:

  • Eight-in-ten who mention that a family member has experienced a mental health decline or crisis within the past 12 months say the family member was an adult aged 19+ (82%), as compared to a child (4%) or teen (12%). Five per cent of all respondents reported that a family member experienced a mental health crisis that required urgent care in the past year.
  • Younger Ontarians (<35 years old), women, and those with children under age 18 in the home, are significantly more likely to have seen a downward shift in their family’s mental health in the past 12 months. Those whose own mental health has been impacted in a negative way are significantly more likely to say their family has been likewise affected (58%).
  • Twenty-one per cent have encountered struggles with employment due to mental health concerns over the past year, including leaving their job (9%). Others have taken a short-term leave of absence from their job (5%), struggled to find employment (4%), or resigned from their job (3%) due to a mental health concern.
  • Those who had contemplated or taken one of these steps are significantly more likely to be younger (aged 18-34), say their mental health has declined over the past year, or identify as an ethnicity other than Caucasian. While just over half (54%) say they have access to an employee benefits plan, only 1 in 3 (36%) report having access to a plan that includes coverage for mental health supports.
  • The majority agree that residents in long-term care homes have had their mental health negatively affected by the pandemic (84%), and eight-in-ten (80%) believe more mental health supports are required for residents in long-term care homes.
  • The majority agree that school aged children and youth have had their mental health negatively affected by the pandemic (80%), and that more mental health supports are required (80%).
  • Ninety per cent of Ontarians agree that mental health supports should be available to those who need it and 84% agree access to mental health supports is vital for Ontario to move past the pandemic and ensure the province’s economic recovery. Only 28% feel mental health supports are easy to access.

"Achieving the level of mental health access needed to support Ontario’s recovery will take everyone, including employers, funders, policy-makers, and the over 20,000 social workers across Ontario. Social workers' efforts toward building resiliency, optimism, and hope were critical before the pandemic. They're even more so now," adds Sur.

Together with its members, OASW is asking the provincial government to accelerate already-committed mental health and addictions funding, unrolling it over five years rather than 10.

As the largest provider of mental health supports in Ontario, social workers are vital to ensuring mental health access for all Ontarians. In health care, long-term care, schools, community mental health, private practice and more, social workers are there to intervene early, reduce barriers, and deliver the quality of mental health care that individuals, families, and communities need, now more than ever. In fact, 86% of Ontario residents believe social workers are essential service providers, and that the pandemic has increased the importance of social workers as providers of mental health supports (79%).

"The pandemic put a spotlight on the essential role of social workers. We’re inviting Ontarians to join us in recognizing social workers’ dedication to their mental health and well-being. It’s also an opportunity for us to underscore that more than ever, people need more mental health supports and they need them sooner."

About the Leger Survey
An online survey of 1,000 Ontario residents was completed between February 4-11, 2022, using Leger’s online panel.

For information contact:
Gabriella Nobrega
[email protected]
416.930.9756


We asked Ontarians...

about mental health and their experiences seeking support for themselves and their loved ones. You told us:

*Source: An online survey of 1,000 Ontario residents was completed between February 4-11, 2022 using Leger’s online panel.


#MoreThanEver
We All Need Support

With more and more Ontarians needing support, ensuring access to timely, high-quality mental health care has never been more critical.

Ontario’s more than 20,000 Registered Social Workers have been on the frontlines of recovery. As the largest provider of mental health care in the province, social workers are vital to ensuring mental health access for all Ontarians.

In health care, long-term care, schools, community mental health, addictions supportprivate practice and more, social workers are there to intervene early, reduce barriers, and deliver the quality mental health care that individuals, families, and communities need, now more than ever.

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#MoreThanEver
Social Workers Are Essential

Celebrate With Us!

Access a suite of resources below for social workers, social work students, and the people and organizations who appreciate them. 


#MoreThanEver
Mental Health Access for All

Keeping conversations about mental health top-of-mind for Ontarians


Twitter: 
OASW Highlights | #MoreThanEver and #SocialWorkWeek2022

LinkedIn: OASW Highlights#MoreThanEver and #SocialWorkWeek2022

Facebook: OASW Highlights#MoreThanEver | #SocialWorkWeek2022

In the Media: Highlights from OASW's Media Engagement in the Past Year