Test your knowledge about some of the approaches to workplace mental health issues found within this website.
The following issues may present as significant stressors for human services professionals; and potentially lead to an increased risk for mental health issues. The proposed approaches may help reduce this risk.
Issue: Frustration at being unable to move clients past particular problems or issues.
Proposed Approach: Hold regular group sessions (virtual or in person) with colleagues to discuss situations and brainstorm solutions while protecting the privacy and confidentiality of clients.
Issue: Compassion fatigue and trauma from dealing with people's problems.
Proposed Approach: Pair or group human services personnel together to offer emotional support on a consistent basis. This may be able to be done with colleagues, through a mentorship program or with supervisors. Other approaches include ensuring appropriate debriefing and rest after traumatic events and varying intense work with less challenging work.
Issue: Pressure from planning and reaching work targets.
Proposed approach: Have managers check in with staff asked to take on more work to ensure that realistic goals and timelines are discussed with each new project. Many workers will continue to take on more work without addressing the negative impact on their mental health.
Issue: Frustration at managers/supervisors who do not understand how they may contribute to stress in the workplace.
Proposed approach: Offer management training programs that teach best practices for supervising human service workers. Hold regular meetings that reinforce the value of the human service worker in the organization. Recognize that the role of a human services manager or supervisor may be especially stressful and that these employees also need support.
Collings, J.A., & Murray, P.J., (1996). Predictors of stress amongst social workers: An empirical study. British Journal of Social Work, 26, 375-387
Hahym A. (2007). The unbearable fatigue of compassion: Notes from a substance abuse counselor who dreams of working at Starbucks, Clinical Social Work Journal, 35, 199-205.