Reimagining Public Safety


Educating Social Workers to Support Public Safety

Plans to reimagine public safety in Minneapolis include as a key component embedding a social worker or public health worker in the department to accompany police on calls that might include subjects with mental illness.  To better understand what kind of education social workers receive in the area of mental health and trauma, the LWVMpls interviewed Dr. Patricia Shannon of the University of Minnesota Mental Health Curriculum Committee.

While in the school of social work, students follow the suggested courses for accreditation standards, which have been updated and changed in recent years to reflect awareness of the need to understand mental illness.  The three main emphasis areas that students can choose from are Clinical Mental Health, Community Practice, and Health disability and aging. 

All classes are taught with a critical lens toward culture. Lectures are given by speakers from various communities to help School of Social Work (SSW) students understand different backgrounds and perspectives. These communities might include, but are not limited to ethnic backgrounds, world cultures, disability cultures and mental illness. 

Advanced evidence-based practice can be pursued in child and adolescent therapy, family dynamics, and serious mental health issues.  A special emphasis is put on understanding schizophrenia and bi-polar disease. 

Many students choose to take elective courses focusing on Black Lives Matter, Trauma Treatment, and US History of Trauma. An advanced course offered the second semester of the second year centers on Trauma Response. 

The University of Minnesota recently received a grant for BIPOC (Black Indigenous and People of Color) students to be accepted into the doctoral program in the school of Social Work.  

In the future, the U of M plans to work on: Interdisciplinary Training, Defunding the Police seminars, and Integrated Behaviors in the health field with an emphasis on working in teams. 

See also a report from Minnesota State Social Work advanced degree candidates regarding the important partnership between police and social workers.

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