Aliya Hirji, BSN, RN, FNP is a labor and delivery nurse at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, a level 1 trauma hospital and Harvard-affiliated teaching hospital…
Social Safety Net volunteers provide confidential professional services for those in need of help.
“Whosoever removes a worldly grief from a believer, Allah will remove from him one of the griefs on the Day of Judgment. Whoever alleviates the lot of a needy person, Allah will alleviate his lot in this world and the next.” From the hadith commentary of An-Nawawi.
Social Safety Net (SSN) is a one-on-one, confidential, crisis support and case management system set up to help vulnerable Jamati members (youth, adults, and seniors) struggling with mental health challenges, domestic violence issues, complex grief and bereavement concerns, poverty, or need guidance in connecting to various health services.
When a Jamati member calls the 24-7 helpline, one of our six professional case managers provides a professional intake, consultation, and mobilizes resources to support them through the difficult situation. Case managers become the individual’s personal champions while ensuring the members’ dignity, right to privacy, and inherent personal strengths are nurtured. They provide a constant reminder that there is hope and healing no matter how difficult the situation.
SSN’s case managers have a background in mental health and social work, and most hold a Master’s degree, along with professional licenses to practice within their respective mental health fields. SSN is their full-time job, though we often find that their work and seva are inextricably connected and they choose to go above and beyond the call of duty for the benefit of the Jamat. They often work long hours, attend late evening conference calls to accommodate other volunteers’ schedules, sacrifice weekend family time to train volunteers, travel to support the Jamat during times of grief and disaster, and they dedicate week-long on-call hours to provide safety, comfort, and resources to those who need immediate help.
SSN case managers support the Jamat during their most vulnerable times - one example being when someone is experiencing suicidal thoughts. Upon receiving the call to the helpline, the case manager takes all necessary actions to prevent the person from doing harm. They collaborate with the individual to conduct an evaluation, develop a safety plan, and engage support systems to ensure the individual’s on-going welfare. The case manager continues to check in with the individual and their support systems and provides a connection to appropriate mental health/health services.
Once the immediate safety of the person is established, the case manager ensures that the whole family system is being supported and nurtured. These efforts continue on for months, and sometimes even years, where the case manager invests time and resources to ensure optimal quality of life for the Jamati member and their family system.
One case manager explained, “I invest all my knowledge, compassion, and heart when helping someone who is experiencing hopelessness and suicidal thoughts. I work for my community and my community is my family. When one member of my family suffers, I know I have to do everything in my power to provide some relief from the pain. I am fortunate to be in a profession that allows me to give my knowledge and expertise towards alleviating the suffering of those in need.”
SSN case managers are uniquely positioned to make a positive impact on the lives of vulnerable Jamati members. They speak various languages (a total of nine languages spoken including South-Asian languages, Persian, Dari, and Tajik), and their diversity in age, family background, and cultures allows for the cultural lenses needed when recognizing their situations and creating case management plans for vulnerable individuals.
Each case manager makes a continued investment in personal and professional improvement through professional development and peer consultation to ensure that they are providing competent, evidence-informed support. For example, one young case manager recently went back to pursue further education to ensure she could give her best intellectual and professional self while serving the Jamat. She stated: “SSN has significantly contributed to my personal and professional growth. Through the work of SSN, I discovered my true passion and chose Clinical Mental Health Counseling as a career. It gives me great joy to contribute my knowledge, time, and skills to improve the quality of lives of our Jamat by serving them in this capacity. “