The National Association of Social Workers Nebraska Chapter (NASW-NE) would like to offer reassurance to our members and the population of Nebraska that we as an organization are appalled by the comments of U.S. Senator Ben Sasse regarding the important work of mental health professionals in this state and across the country.
Senator Sasse, on May 16th, in an address to the Fremont High School graduating class, minimized the challenges and losses they have experienced, including high school graduation as a rite of passage. He also discouraged young people from pursuing psychology degrees and portrayed mental health practitioners as only existing to make people forget high school and observe rats in mazes.
The Senator’s remarks dismissed the critical work done by mental health professionals on a daily basis to help others heal from severe trauma, addiction and debilitating depression and highlight a lack of awareness of the need to make mental health services a priority. When Senator Sasse discouraged young people from pursuing mental health professions, he dismissed the critical need for mental health services to prevent the alarmingly increasing prevalence of suicide, mass shootings, and community violence in our nation today.
It is with great disappointment that we see one of the U.S. Senators representing Nebraska missing the mark on the topic of mental health to this degree, particularly during the current crisis. The Senator’s remarks dismissed the dire need for mental health services in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis as families are faced with financial shock, the loss of loved ones, and the increasing needs of their children. Essential care must be available for all of our community members as isolation increases, grief becomes commonplace, and depression looms for many who would not be susceptible under normal circumstances. NASW-NE is committed to continuing to support mental health professionals as they fill this great need.
There are so many ways that these professionals provide a foundation for the growth of our communities and we must recognize the continuing sacrifice that all of our mental health professionals are making to meet the increasing needs of American citizens. It is with this understanding that we share our commitment to them, recognize all of them for the heroes they are and commend them for the amazing work they do every day. NASW-NE will continue to work hard to advocate and build awareness of the importance of mental health professionals, and we are committed to supporting our young people to pursue mental health professions.
The senators comments have raised strong reactions from others. Take time to read this related news coverage.