Let’s talk about stress in social work.
Stress Awareness Month has been held every April since 1992 to raise awareness of our modern-day stress epidemic. It is an opportunity to have open conversations on the impact of stress and a time dedicated to removing the guilt, shame, and stigma around mental health; to talk about stress and its effects; and to open up about our mental and emotional state with friends, families, colleagues, and professionals.
Social workers will deal with about 10 stressful work situations a day, with an average of 50 interactions a week. This chronic work-induced stress can have a significant negative impact on every aspect of our lives including our physical health, mental health, and relationships. Social workers have told us in the joint research on working conditions and wellbeing from SWU, BASW, and Bath Spa Univerity that their main sources of stress are related to caseloads, resources, workload, respect, and payment. These stressors, combined with poor working conditions, are causing problems for our members.
Social Workers Union (SWU) General Secretary John McGowan has interviewed Dr Neil Thompson for Stress Awareness Month in a new Talk to SWU video. Dr Neil Thompson is a social worker, writer, educator, wellbeing expert, SWU Ambassador, BASW Cymru Ambassador, and is currently a visiting professor at Open University. In this interview, John and Neil discuss the impact of stress and burnout on social workers and examine some of the common myths about stress.
During the interview Neil said,
“I want to emphasize that a lack of support in the workplace also contributes to stress. There is an expectation that, in any employment situation, employers provide some degree of support for their employees. Under the health and safety legislation, for example, it’s essential that employers make sure that employees are not being harmed in some way.
“When the legislation was developed, what they had in mind was avoiding things like physical accidents – making sure there are signs warning you if there’s a wet floor, making sure that electrical items are properly earthed, and so on and so forth. But what’s developed over the years through case law precedent is an acceptance that stress can act as a health and safety issue as well.”
Watch the video below
You can watch the video below or on the SWU YouTube Channel here: https://youtu.be/owHLQM1Omq8
You may also be interested in the SWU leaflet “Ten ways to thrive in social work” (PDF) which distils top tips from John and Neil’s book How to Survive in Social Work mentioned in the interview.