Social worker takes on Boston Marathon to help people change their lives

Mary Bazylewicz has a list on her desk of the negative things people say to themselves and positive phrases to replace them. This list sums up her personality and her job. As a licensed clinical social worker embedded in the Department of General Internal Medicine (GIM) at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center, she helps people think positively and works to change their lives for the better.

Mary is modest about her work, too. “I think a good thing for people to know is that I’m not a miracle worker,” she said. “I like to think that I can help motivate, help people create change, but change is really hard.”

Mary is using her positive attitude to train to run the Boston Marathon® with Team Lahey. “This is really important to me because Lahey is far more than just a job for me,” she explained.  

Since 2014, Mary has been embedded in GIM. Her work is part of a new movement to put social workers into primary care. Social workers don’t typically work in primary care offices, but having someone like Mary on hand at all times makes mental health care more easily accessible for patients whose needs go beyond the physical. 

“Behavioral health is a hard thing to get urgently, but it’s also a hard thing to find,” Mary explained. “I think some people don’t know where to look for it, but mostly everybody knows how to find a doctor. So, once you find the doctor, it’s an easier gateway to accessing a slew of behavioral health resources that you otherwise might not know exist.”

Mary is putting her passion for helping people to work by raising money to fund mental health programs in her department at Lahey. “It’s one of the best feelings in the world to be able to help people,” she said. The details are still coming together, but she already has ideas for programs to start with the money she raises. “I know there’s a huge population of older adults right now that feel they’re pushed aside and alone and misunderstood. I also think that substance abuse is an incredibly prevalent area that always needs attention.”

But before the $15,000 she plans to raise gets put to great use, Mary has to make it to the finish line on Boylston Street.

“I couldn’t be happier to be able to help, run for those who can’t, and then be able to give back to an incredible population of people. These people that have circumstances that aren’t always in their control, but could use a little bit of support and a little bit of awareness and attention,” Mary said.