Stress taking a toll on mental health workers in the United Kingdom

The United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) survey, which analyzed responses from its mental health trust providers from 2008 to 2013, reported a broad increase in stress among its mental health workforce. In particular, the survey revealed frontline social workers overtook doctors, nurses and occupational therapists as the profession suffering from the most work-related stress. Here are a few of the findings that stood out as being of most concern when compared with findings when the survey began five years ago:

  • Fifty six percent of social workers suffered work-related stress (more than double since the survey began).
  • Thirty four percent of social workers witnessed ‘near miss’ serious incidents at work.
  • Twenty six percent of social workers said they had been harassed or bullied by other staff in 2013.
  • Social workers reported support from senior management and immediate managers fell to an all-time low.

Social workers said the findings reflected the growing pressure on frontline staff as the demand for mental healthcare rises, while at the same time budgets are being cut. Dean Royles, chief executive of NHS Employers, acknowledged the problem and said his organization is working to support employers in their efforts to reduce stress among staff.

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