Social work stress in mental health teams hits record high

What can I say?  I have a social work background er… I’m a social worker and I happen to have worked in mental health services since 1996.  Over that period I have met some great people; carers, service users and colleagues and had and seen some great things.  I have also witnessed and been involved in some very stressful incidents and seen a fair bit of distress again, among carers, service users and colleagues.  Stress is a part of the very fabric of life and no matter how hard we try it is unavoidable.  What makes the difference is how we and those around us respond and manage those stresses.

Community Care Highlights Social Work Stress

Serious expression on woman's face
Social Work Stress at Record Level
photo credit: Neil. Moralee

The magazine recently undertook some analysis based on the annual NHS staff survey findings and published its findings on their site.  Their article makes for interesting reading and they summarise these points:

  • Social workers witnessing ‘near miss’ serious incidents reached 34% in 2013, the highest over five years
  • The rating of ‘work pressure’ hit its highest level in 2013
  • Over a quarter of social workers said they had been harassed or bullied by staff
  • ‘Job-relevant’ professional development hit 79% in 2013, the lowest score over five years
  • Quality of communication from senior management also fell to a five-year low
  • ‘Support from immediate managers’ also fell to its lowest level in 2013.
  • Job satisfaction remained relatively stable over the five-year period.

That last point for me is a tribute to all who work with or care for people who experience mental health difficulties.  It says that despite everything they keep going and still get satisfaction in what they do.  If you are a carer or service user, do something nice and say thank you to your social worker, CPN, OT or other professional that helps with the support you need.  They are doing a job that is really critical in quite challenging times.  Find out about how services are developing and if you are not happy about it, tell you GP, your local trust, social services authority MP or anyone else who might listen to you!

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