Journal Article

Stress and Pressures in Mental Health Social Work: The Worker Speaks

Peter Huxley, Sherrill Evans, Claire Gately, Martin Webber, Alex Mears, Sarah Pajak, Tim Kendall, Jibby Medina and Cornelius Katona

in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 35, issue 7, pages 1063-1079
Published in print October 2005 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online July 2005 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI:
Stress and Pressures in Mental Health Social Work: The Worker Speaks

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Two-thirds of councils with social services responsibilities (CSSRs) took part in a UK survey of mental health social workers. A one in five sample of front line workers was drawn, and 237 respondents completed a questionnaire and diary about their work context and content, and their attitudes to their work, their employer, mental health policy and the place of mental health social work in modernized mental health services. The questions, that called for free-text responses, were completed in detail and at length. This paper reports the results of a qualitative analysis of these responses using NVIVO software. The paper is structured around the themes emerging from the analysis: pressure of work; staffing matters; job satisfaction and well-being; recruitment and retention issues; and being valued. The conclusions are that the social workers value face to face contact with service users, and that their commitment to service users is an important factor in staff retention. The most unsatisfactory aspects of their work context arise from not feeling valued by their employers and wider society, and some of the most satisfactory from the support of colleagues and supervisors. Without attention to these factors, recruitment and retention problems will remain an unresolved issue.

Keywords: Mental health social work; stress; job satisfaction; recruitment; retention

Journal Article.  7195 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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