The impact of statutory duties on Mental Health Social Workers in the UK

Evans, Sherrill and Huxley, Peter and Webber, Martin and Katona, Cornelius and Gately, Claire and Mears, Alex and Medina, Jibby and Pajak, Sarah and Kendall, Tim (2005) The impact of statutory duties on Mental Health Social Workers in the UK. Health & Social Care in the Community, 13 (2). pp. 145-154. ISSN 0966-0410. (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

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In the UK, applications for involuntary admission to psychiatric units are made mainly by specially trained approved social workers (ASWs). Proposed changes in the legislation will permit other professionals to undertake these statutory duties. This study aimed to examine how ASW status impacts upon work pattern and workload stresses by comparing ASWs with other mental health social workers who did not carry statutory responsibilities. A multimethod design was adopted that included a crosssectional national survey of mental health social workers (n = 237, including 162 ASWs), and a telephone survey of mental health service managers (n = 60). Data were collected using a semistructured questionnaire and diary, the content of which was derived from focus-group work and standard measures. Features of job content, working patterns and conditions were described and their association with stress, burnout and job satisfaction examined. ASWs were older and had been qualified longer than non-ASWs. The working patterns and conditions of the two groups did not differ, although ASWs did more hours on duty. ASWs received less support at work, particularly from supervisors and their role afforded less decision latitude than that of non-ASWs. ASW status was related to an elevated GHQ score, particularly among males. Emotional exhaustion was very high (over two-thirds in both groups) but ASWs and non-ASWs did not differ in this or any other feature of burnout, only 8% of the sample were actually 'burntout', being more common among ASWs. ASWs were more dissatisfied and were more likely than non-ASWs to want to leave their job. Given that ASW status increased stress and job dissatisfaction, especially for men, and was related to a desire to leave one's current job, it seems likely that extending statutory duties to other professionals will increase levels of stress, burnout and dissatisfaction in these groups also. In turn, this might have consequences for staff recruitment and retention.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled keywords: Keywords: approved social work; burnout; job satisfaction; mental health social work; stress
Subjects: R Medicine
Divisions: Faculties > Science Technology and Medical Studies > Kent Institute of Medicine and Health Sciences (KIMHS)
Depositing User: M.P. Stone
Date Deposited: 05 Sep 2008 23:08
Last Modified: 24 Apr 2014 12:31
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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