Social Work Week and National Social Work Month

March 6 to 12 is Social Work Week in Ontario, and across Canada, March is National Social Work Month. Learn more about how #SocialWorkIsEssential to #MobilizingMentalHealth access across Ontario, and join us in celebrating this essential work.


Every day, social workers support people in navigating complex systems. We are uniquely positioned to identify and fill systemic gaps, provide key services and programs, and connect communities to what they need, all while applying our skills to build a more just world. 

This Social Work Week and National Social Work Month, OASW joins the Canadian Association of Social Workers in recognizing and spotlighting the many facets of social work practice that enhance the health and well-being of people, families and communities.

The theme #SocialWorkIsEssential speaks to the diverse and essential nature of our profession, from providing critical support, to navigating complicated health, mental health and social services systems, mobilizing mental health access for Ontarians and Canadians.


March 6 to 12 is Social Work Week in Ontario, and all month long we join in celebrating National Social Work Month. Both are critical opportunities to recognize the dedication, hard work and accomplishments of our amazing profession.

Our coordinated national and provincial efforts shine a light on the invaluable contributions of social workers in supporting health, mental health and well-being across complex systems and settings. From identifying gaps, reducing barriers, and providing critical care, Ontario’s 22,000 social workers connect people, families and communities to the mental health and social supports they need.

After multiple challenging years marked by change and uncertainty in all aspects of our personal and professional lives, the immense importance of mental health has never been more clear. And yet, despite this clarity, Ontarians continue to face significant barriers to accessing the supports they need. This Social Work Week and National Social Work Month, I am calling on social workers across Ontario to take action on mental health.

Ontario’s decision-makers need to hear how we can work together to increase access to vital mental health supports in the systems and settings Ontarians engage with every day. Help amplify our message by contacting your Member of Provincial Parliamentour mobilizer tool makes this possible at the touch of button.

As the largest provider of mental health services in the province, we know Ontario’s social workers are essential to accelerating and expanding access to mental health care. That’s why we’ve chosen to center this in our theme, our Strategic Plan, and our new vision of mobilizing mental health and well-being across Ontario.

As social workers, you are on the frontlines every day providing vital assessment, treatment, case management and system navigation. In multiple health care settings, long-term care, schools, community mental health, private practice and more, you are there to intervene early, reduce barriers to care, and deliver the quality mental health support that individuals, families, and communities need.

This role is not easy. While we tirelessly promote and support the wellness of others, it’s imperative that we take care of ourselves and each other. Social Work Week gives us a chance to reflect on all we have accomplished – to celebrate the victories, connect with each other, and pause and take some time for our own self-care.

With that in mind, I invite you to join us for Mental Health Mondays in March, where will be offering free virtual sessions for OASW members as a token of gratitude for the incredible work that you do. I hope that you will take the time to start your week off right, by tuning into your needs and attending to your well-being.

Excitingly, as we return to in-person gatherings, I encourage you to connect with your colleagues and celebrate our profession by attending one of the many celebrations hosted by our Local Engagement Networks in communities across the province.

As we celebrate each other and this incredible profession, I want to offer my gratitude to every single social worker in Ontario. The work you do every day makes an immense difference. Social work is essential, and your work deserves to be recognized as such.

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

'Alarming' Mental Health Trend in Young Adult Women: New Poll

Research also shows barriers, frustration accessing mental health care

March 8, 2023, TORONTO, ON ― Two thirds, or 66 per cent, of Ontario women between the ages of 18 and 35 are living with a mental health condition, according to a new poll released today.

That group includes 34 per cent of women who believe they have an undiagnosed mental health condition and another 32 per cent who report being diagnosed, according to the poll.

"This is an alarming situation. We should all sit up and take notice," said Dr. Deepy Sur, CEO of the Ontario Association of Social Workers, which commissioned the poll. "This age group consists of women who are finishing school, building careers and potentially having children for the first time. When you add the social isolation and difficulties accessing support services over the past few years of the pandemic, it's made young women more vulnerable to loneliness and stress. Women are also more likely to have been on the front lines of the pandemic in health care, essential services and in caregiving roles."

According to the poll, young adults are more likely to report barriers to accessing mental health support, such as long wait lists, high cost, or not knowing where to begin to find support. They are also more likely to say that their mental health has declined within the past year or that they have experienced a mental health crisis that required urgent care.

Overall, the poll found that almost one quarter of Ontarians, or 24 per cent, have been diagnosed with a mental health condition, while an additional 21 per cent believe they have an undiagnosed condition.

Fully one quarter of respondents, or 25 per cent, said their mental health has worsened over the past year.

The online poll, by Innovative Research Group, sampled 1,265 Ontarians aged 18 and over from February 17 to 20. It is weighted by age, gender and region to reflect Ontario's actual population according to Census data.

The poll coincides with Social Work Week, which is spotlighting the profession's role in mobilizing mental health access for all Ontarians. There are more than 22,000 Registered Social Workers in Ontario. They are the largest group of mental health providers in the province and support people daily in navigating complex systems.

The poll data demonstrates the need for guidance in accessing mental health treatment. Of those who were unable to access treatment or thought about accessing treatment but did not try, 72 per cent said they would be more likely to access mental health supports if there was someone to help guide them.

Overall, the poll showed that a majority, or 60 per cent, of those who sought out mental health supports were frustrated with the experience. That number was higher among women aged 18-34, with 73 per cent saying their experience was either frustrating or extremely frustrating.

"Social workers support, guide, connect and provide treatment for people with mental health conditions," said Sur. "Every day our members on the front lines of the mental health crisis report that people are struggling to access help. This data makes it clear just how important that role is."

Other notable findings in the poll:

  • A strong majority, or 82 per cent of respondents, believe it is important for mental health providers to have a wide range of backgrounds and experiences, including diverse racial, ethnic and cultural backgrounds as well as diverse gender identities.
  • The lowest-income Ontarians are least likely, at 27 per cent, to have accessed mental health supports over the past year.
  • Half of Ontarians would be more likely to access mental health supports if they were covered by their employers' benefits programs.
  • Among those who tried to access help but were unable to, waitlists were the number one concern (60 per cent).
  • Three in five people, or 57 per cent, said they would turn to their family doctor if they were experiencing a mental health crisis.

"This poll should serve as a wake-up call," said Sur. "Getting help is not always as easy as phoning up a mental health professional. We need to meet people where they're at, and intervene early when they first experience mental health challenges. That means adding more social workers in schools, hospitals, primary health care, long-term care homes and community care. We need more government funding to do that."

The poll results report can be accessed at:

For information or to schedule an interview with Deepy Sur contact:
Lisa Timoshenko
[email protected]

We asked Ontarians...

about mental health and their experiences seeking support for themselves and their loved ones. Here's what we found:

Source: An online poll of 1,265 Ontarians was completed from February 17 to 20 by Innovative Research Group.

Keeping conversations about mental health top-of-mind

Have a look at our latest tweets, and see how people are engaging with the campaign across Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.

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