Social Worker Feature


Social worker, Paul Epstein, works in his office.

Karina Lorenzo, Staff Writer

Social workers at the high school work to provide a welcoming place for vulnerable students who need help. There can be a stigma towards seeing a social worker but students are open to the opportunity.

“It’s seen as something that a lot of kids don’t want to do because they want maybe a little more privacy. They might feel even somewhat embarrassed that, ‘hey I have a social worker.’ But this school is a little different. All the social workers have been here a long time and we just kind of know a lot of kids even if we don’t see them for counseling,” social worker Paul Epstein said.

Sophomore Juliette Estime said kids should not be embarrassed to seek help through counseling.

“Kids shouldn’t be ashamed of seeing social workers. But I think some are just scared to say that they have one because people might think they’re crazy but then for others, they are probably just scared because they don’t want people knowing they have some type of problem in their life,” Estime said. 

Sophomore Ana Merida also believes that kids should not be ashamed of counseling.

“Kids shouldn’t be ashamed of getting help from social workers because they know that they have someone who cares about them if anything bad happens and they’ll be there for them,” Meirda said.

Merida said some people might think there is a stigma for having a social worker because the kids who go there may have “problems.”

“No one is perfect, so other people have to understand that. Other people just go there because the social worker wants to make sure that they are okay,” Merida said.

Epstein said there should be no stigma towards counseling.

“I wish that there was no stigma to being a social worker because we’ve all had times in our life where we need help,” Epstein said.

Social worker Fran Kuehn said one way the high school is doing well at pushing back from the stigma is by communication.

“There’s a lot of word of mouth about the benefits of working with social workers here. It helps to dispel any stigma that might be out there,” Kuehn said.

Kuehn said the best way to break away from the stigma is with direct experience.

“If they are not sure what it’s like to work with a social worker ask someone who has. And say was it weird? Do social workers talk about students? Is it a confidential service? I think for the most part you’re going to hear positive reviews from the students,” Kuehn said.

Epstein said many kids go to see social workers because they want to.

“A lot of times kids will walk in on their own because they sort of found out about it or their friend comes and sees us. That is a big one, a lot of people bring in their friends after they get to know us,” Epstein said.

Kuehn said it is very normal to be nervous about seeing a social worker. Senior Nadjae Edmonson said some of these concerns come from confidentiality.

“I guess people believe that some social workers will go and discuss their business,” Edmonson said.

However, the counseling is confidential service, according to Keuhn.

“Unless it’s a safety concern, under those circumstances every adult in the building has to tell somebody else about it. But for the most part, things can be kept confidential between you and your social worker,” Kuehn said.

Kuehn said that if you are struggling and need to talk to a social worker asking someone you trust for help is always a good first step.

“Ask a friend and say what was your experience like? I’ve been struggling with this, do you think it would be helpful for me to meet with a social worker? One of the things that can happen is a student can meet with a social worker and then stop if they don’t find it helpful,” Kuehn said. “It’s okay to try it out and see if it’s helpful and if not, maybe something else is.”