Social Work as a ‘Bullshit Job’: Critiques of Social Work’s Potential for Social Justice in the Context of Professionalization and its Code of Ethics

I recently participated in a focus group examining “contemporary social work students’ responses to social justice practice principles as stated in the Social Work Code of Ethics”, and thought I’d collect some of the ideas I had shared about the topic. Some see the code of ethics and mobilization within the profession as a venue for the furthering of social justice, but a broader analysis of social work and my experience in the field has led me to find this problematic. I do believe, as Bonnycastle’s “From Social Equality to Compassion: A Critique of the 2005 CASW Code of Ethics” expressed, that the code can illuminate trends that are occurring in the field. Bonnycastle specifically suggested that the trends seem to sway towards neoliberalism. The removal of mentions of egalitarianism and humanitarianism from the code’s preamble was telling, but I believe that even the elements of the code referring to […]

Anarchist Re-Imaginations of Mental Healthcare

Today, I attended a great talk by Bonnie Burstow on anarchist re-imaginations of mental health care, entitled ‘Toward a World with Commons and without Psychiatry: an Anarchist Vision’. The talk spoke to a lot of my concerns having worked in the mental health field for the past couple years, but also spoke to some of my aspirations for the provision of mental healthcare in a collective manner. Firstly, Burstow outlined the foundations of the contemporary mental health field and its interventions into the lives of those deemed unwell – parens patriae and the responsibility of the state to protect. Parens patriae (parent of the nation) is the notion that the state – like a ‘patriarch’ – could and should intervene in the lives of people when the state deems it to be in the people’s best interest – as defined by the state. The second foundation is the idea that […]

The Mental Health Field and Our Complicity in Police Brutality and Repression of Racialized People

During Canadian Mental Health Association’s annual Black History Month panel today, I was pleasantly surprised, even shocked, to see Kabir and Letanya representing the Justice for Jermaine campaign at my office. They gave a great talk about the circumstances behind Jermaine Carby, another young man murdered by the police and someone whom was going through the mental health system, as well as the context of police brutality – as did Jordon Veira and Tennial Rock.  The talk focused on the important and urgent need for continued opposition to the police and their targeting of Black and other marginalized people. However, often missing within the mental health field is acknowledgment of our complicity in this brutality we claim to oppose. Just as the police has a long history of supporting state and capital in the subjugation of racialized people, psychiatry and the broader field of mental health has not only assisted in this process […]

Some photos from my recent trip to Hong Kong to see off my grandmother. R.I.P. PoPo/Grandmother. You may have been difficult at times, but I am forever grateful to you for raising me: cooking for me, protecting me, and most importantly, introducing me to soccer and the tradition of swearing at television screens during games. I will always remember the times when I was alone at home unable to sleep – as I was afraid of the dark – and the instant relief I felt when you returned home and pretended with me that we were exploring a cave under the blankets. I am even grateful for your signature ketchup on pizza, and ketchup on rice, and ketchup on everything – though probably won’t be adopting that anytime soon. I love you and miss you.

Thoughts on umbrella revolution

Had a great lunch with Elene and Tings Etc to discuss the ongoings in HK, gaining a lot more insight. I know a lot of fellow leftists have been skeptical about the nature of the protests in HK and whether it’s worth supporting. A lot of the criticism is legitimate (though there is also a caveat). Firstly, it does appear that unlike the early-2000s (when I was living in HK and involved in the democracy movement) where an economic critique was very central to protests, the economic critique (never really picked up by the Western media in the first place) has become less emphasized. Secondly, a nativist discourse (apparent to anyone who has visited HK in the last decade) has become stronger and stronger. I have found it odd that unlike my past experiences, the languages has moved from ‘Democracy in China’ and supporting our Chinese compatriots, to ‘Democracy in […]

Thoughts on the Rob Ford Scandal

I’ve been following the Rob Ford scandal intently for the last couple days and as much as I hope I am wrong, I think he will survive this debacle and the fault lies entirely with his opponents. It’s all an issue of framing. The issue has been framed by the media and his opponents as a question of individual morals – a politician that smokes crack and lies about it should resign. But the context is completely left out and without the context, Rob Ford becomes a sympathetic figure … a figure that the very people the left should count as allies, the disenfranchised, the oppressed, can connect to . This context that has been erased is that the policies he pushes for are the very policies that are the most harmful to the people being drawn to Ford. Instead of the focus on the specific act depicted in the […]