GNA Success Stories – Brianna Smith

Get to know Brianna Smith

“When I graduated from Nanticoke, I had no idea what trajectory my life was headed in. Like most of my peers, I wanted to work in the health field, but I didn’t realize how broad that field truly is. When I started at LCCC, I was on the path to study Respiratory Therapy, but after taking, like, every Psychology class they had to offer, I realized I had passion for the brain and the impact mental health disorders and trauma can have on a person, but I just didn’t know what to do with it. So after daily trips to the Career Center, I decided to enroll in the Human Services Program.

The most challenging aspect of social work, I would say, is the lack of resources in our area, because there’s a lot of need, and you know, you can pick and choose which areas you want to target, but the resources are very scarce for them. Like for example, homelessness: there’s one women’s shelter in all of Northeastern Pennsylvania, and they only get thirty days to stay there. So if they don’t get housing in those thirty days, then they’re on the street. There’s a big mental health need, especially since First Hospital just shut down–their beds were always filled–and now we don’t have that resource, and along with First Hospital, Community Health closed, so all those patients who were getting outpatient services, who were getting medication, who were getting sobriety, it’s all kind of shifted. That need is still there, but that resource is gone. My agency is working on opening more into the adult-services side, so we are offering substance abuse counseling, we are offering adult services, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg, you know?

I think we need to help people understand that mental health is not a bad thing.  It’s not a bad thing to want to help the people in your community, and it’s not a bad thing to have services available as long as we have the proper staffing and policies in play to help them maintain safety.  There’s always been an issue finding social workers because nobody wants to do it. The pay is awful, but also, I think there’s just so much stigma. Like someone learns that I’m a social worker and they think that I’m gonna take their kids away, and that has nothing to do with what I do–that has absolutely nothing to do with it. I think that people have such a bad taste in their mouths about what social workers do that they don’t see the value in it. I don’t take your kids away: I listen to you. I try to solve these issues with you as a family unit. We try to solve these issues together. I’m on your team. I’m on your side.”


Brianna Smith, 2014

Mobile Therapist (CSBBH)