Presented by Hai Ly, LICSW

On Wednesday, January 25, 2023. Hai Ly, LICSW, spoke to students, faculty, and staff about “Systems of Oppression within Healthcare: A Social Work Perspective.”

Ly does clinical work since earning her Master’s in Social Work degree from Boston University in 2001 and is a primary care LICSW and emergency department social worker at Brigham & Women’s Hospital.

Ly began with an overview of the field of social work and explained that social work helps patients and families cope with illnesses and health related conditions and are advocates. Social workers see the impact of health and metal health’s impact on people’s lives.

Ly gave a background into the history of social work, which like many other sectors are rooted in white supremacy, where interventions revolved around the white way of life as the status quo.

Unfortunately many key frameworks still allow social work to be rooted in white supremacy, such as:

  • Social mothering
  • Treatment and diagnosis of mental illness
  • Discrimination within schools of social work
  • Advocating for social injustice didn’t come until recently when social justice was added as an ethical code for the profession

Ly also shared examples of past atrocities in social work such as the forced removal of indigenous children from tribal life, the Indian Adoption Project, the India Child Welfare Act, Operation Baby Lift, and over reporting abuse on families of color.

She ended her presentation by sharing her CPIP project, where her team surveyed Black female primary care patients regarding the impact of racism on their mental health. The surveys were reviewed by the team and patients were referred to additional mental health supports, yielding a significant increase in connecting Black female patients to support to get mental health care.