Stress at work is an everyday problem for a large number of people. However, did you know that clinical levels of stress are higher in those working within the social sector, than soldiers coming home from Iraq?
With the high demand and emotionally-testing nature of their work, mental health is being called upon to receive more attention and help for struggling employees.
Melissa from MLS says “We need to think of it like a social wall – if the wall is only made up of a few bricks, it is more likely to succumb to an attack. However if the wall is made with an army of bricks, the easier it will be protected and able to withstand oncoming force.”
The main problem is high vacancy rates, large case loads, a lack of support and public pressure. These issues create cracks in mental health, and with the demanding underpinnings of social work, employees need help maintaining stability in order to deliver a progressive service.
The other problem, is that as a profession, social work suffers from a lack of funding, and is therefore unable to increase numbers of work-force and spread out demand.
Critics have stated that workers need more “support and supervision” in order to keep staff healthy and as stress-free as possible, because when they are working alongside someone who is victim to a trauma, it is hard to categorize it as a job and become emotionally removed from their situation.
This leads to many workers shouldering the burden of the people they are working with, and when witnessing the unfair and upsetting circumstances inflicted upon people, many become psychologically effected.
This can effect staff in a number of different ways, such as stress and anxiety, a lack of enthusiasm, awareness and motivation, feelings of lethargy, depression and negative feelings towards other work members. As a result of this, the amount of sick-days taken by employees has risen, which again increases demand for other staff and the cycle continues.
Social workers need to feel like they can ask for help when and where it is needed, and employers need to be aware of the troubles their staff face – particularly those exposed to the most vulnerable and damaged people.
Reflective supervision should be mandatory and always on offer, as it is a chance for workers to receive the support needed. It can help define role clarity, generate higher role satisfaction and lower role conflict, which in turn helps to eradicate stress at work.