National Social Work Month

Social Workers: Leaders, Advocates, Champions

By Ashley Slagel-Perry

March is National Social Work month and this year’s theme is “Social Workers. Leaders. Advocates. Champions.” Social workers for generations have served as leaders, advocates and champions helping individuals overcome challenges so they can live up to their full potential. Social workers also work tirelessly to improve our communities and society. Social workers also touch the lives of millions on a more personal level. They comfort people who are experiencing devastating illnesses and mental health crises, ensuring they get the best care while on the road to recovery. They support our brave military personnel, veterans and their families. Child, family and school social workers stand up by protecting children who have been abused or neglected, helping children find new families through adoption, and ensuring young people reach their full academic and personal potential.

At the Community Health Center of the New River Valley, three social workers across all three sites serve patients as behavioral health therapists. Erin Shaffer, LCSW serves patients at our Dublin site.  Nora Miller, MSW serves patients in Giles and Christiansburg and Ashley Slagel-Perry serves patients in Christiansburg.

At the CHCNRV, social workers practice through an Integrated Care Model. Whether patients come in through the dental department, medical department or behavioral health – we are interested in treating the whole person. Departments work together completing “warm hand-offs.” A “warm hand off” is when a medical or dental provider directly introduces the patient to the behavioral health provider at the time of the medical/dental apt. The goal of the “warm hand-off” is twofold. One is to establish an initial face-to-face between the patient and the behavioral health provider —we know that when people have a warm hand-off they are more likely to return to services. Additionally, this allows the medical or dental provider with whom the patient has a relationship, to vouch for the behavioral health provider. This often reduces the stigma of behavioral health treatment. A warm hand-off also offers unique opportunity to provide an immediate brief intervention and/or referral.

Are you interested in learning more about how your social workers serve the Center or about the profession of social work? Chat with your local social work team member and check out the

National Association of Social Workers at