More than Just Education

Lin-You Xin / MA Candidate
Graduate Institute of Social Work

I am glad that I have had such a different and fulfilling time in my postgraduate studies. The education I have received has helped me to move on from my confused thinking, so that I do not lose my way and my original intention in the sea of practice, and to retain my care and belief in people in a part of the world that is becoming numb and institutionalised. By returning to the field this time and allowing myself to be immersed and face the front line, I had the opportunity to re-examine more than just education.

Departmental Course Study

The physical, psychological and social contexts that we have learnt from the department’s courses have taught us that the issue of impairment should be considered in multiple ways. The lack of communication and support at home also delayed the possibility of early medical treatment, leading to a greater social tragedy. The social safety net advocated by the government today should include how to enable everyone in the community to live free from fear and at ease, and on the other hand, to understand how they come to commit crimes and how other intertwined influences may contribute to the understanding of their causes. It is only by taking a serious look at the life history of people with impairments and thinking about the social fabric of society that we can talk about prevention and improvement. Early identification of adolescent onset, mental health notification and early intervention in the education system is a door that slowly leads society towards a more friendly and understanding environment. In the middle of the spectrum, there should be family-based long-term care and support programmes, from employment to financial support, knowledge and education, and community participation, which require time and resources and dialogue between different professions. This is the only way to develop a social safety net that can truly accommodate people with mental disabilities.

Obstacles and Insights from Practice

We are not talking about the inadequacy and inequality of the system in terms of the overall social structure. As a community resource centre, we hope to go one step further and take root in the community and grow the shoots of empowerment. A place where they can freely discuss and speak out against oppression, where social workers are not only the gatekeepers of resources or the implementers of business programmes, but also the advocates and promoters of a brighter light for the disadvantaged. The problem of disparity and stratification within the community of people with disabilities is not being seriously addressed and solved, but is instead being addressed through the use of external tools. How to make the limited public resources really benefit people with disabilities at the bottom of the economic ladder is what needs to be thought about.

Basically, the neighbourhood avoidance principle of not wanting to be around people with mental disabilities is a human projection of self-defence, but the question of whether the community exclusion of the neighbourhood avoidance principle can be practically imagined in the first instance for the types of issues supported or stigmatised can be discussed further.

Social Action

In view of the above, I felt that I could not just stop at education and learning, and then seek opportunities to volunteer as a support group for people with mental disabilities. I came to the programme with a simple desire to learn and see, but as time passed, I slowly changed with every scene I encountered. The conflicting emotions of helplessness and strength infected my thoughts and opinions.

The students are no different from us, fearing discrimination and misinterpretation from others, with defensiveness and a variety of emotional tensions. At first, we thought we were paying lip service to the importance and meaning of self-reliance for trainees, but in reality we were not. We learnt among our supporters that this was a form of arrogance. We still see trainees as less capable individuals and deprive them of the opportunity and development of self-reliance in society and the community. We always silently assume that they need help and simply judge them as unable to do so. Along the way, they have slowly proved to us that they can do better than we can with a little observation and attention and a little help from the right people.

It is not the original deficit that makes development weaker or worse, but how it affects the way it participates in society.Every time I think of this, an image comes to mind. Differences are actually more like different fruits. Ordinary people have all sorts of special needs too, but we are more able to hide them, whereas trainees are more real. It is true that the impairment itself causes inconvenience in their lives, but this does not mean that they are terrible or pitiful. Rather, it is a process of understanding the ‘barriers’ created by the social environment and system that allows us to think of possible supportive actions and strategies. Through the act of support, we will be able to find the pieces of the past that have been torn apart and put them together into a complete picture of the future.

We can't help everyone, but everyone can help everyone else

Lin-You Xin

Life is a magnificent red flame that is hard to erase and will grow stronger and stronger as it burns brighter and brighter. In the same way, I believe that the soul of a social worker is the same, and that what does not kill us social workers will become stronger and stronger in the process. Watching the backs of every social worker during the interactive process, I realised that we are overloaded with expectations by the society, the cases, the families and ourselves, but at the same time we are overwhelmed by these expectations and forget that this is a profession and a responsibility that requires everyone to come in and work together. This is the positive gain and departure of our education.