Burn out amongst mental health social workers

Excessive job demands and limited scope for decision making are leading to poor job satisfaction amongst mental health social workers, according to the first national study of the professional group.

The survey, which was published in this month’s edition of the British Journal of Psychiatry, also found that high levels of stress and emotional exhaustion were also present amongst the group.

The study of 237 respondents also found that the social workers worked an average of 43 hours per week, roughly six hours more than they were contracted for.

The mental health social workers who had approved social worker status had greater job dissatisfaction.

Just over one fifth of the survey’s respondents had made specific plans to leave their job and 28 per cent had a strong desire to leave. The study comments that although the profession makes a significant contribution to community mental health teams it is a scarce and declining resource in contrast to other countries, such as America, where social workers are the major professional group in mental health services.

It concludes that in Northern Ireland the rates of approved social workers in mental health services are three times those in England and Wales.

Mental Health, burnout and job satisfaction among mental health social workers in England and Wales from: www.rcpysch.ac.uk

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