When most media sources report on the modern mental health care landscape, the topics typically deal with the diagnosis and treatment of afflicted individuals. While this should remain a primary focus in the medical field, the professionals themselves are often overlooked.
The mental health care system is under a lot of stress nowadays. The amount of identified disorders continues to rise each year and as a result, the patient loads of therapists and general care physicians have all piled up and reached their limits. Due to these trends, the current state of mental health services is characterized by prolonged, administrative delays and rushed, insubstantial attention. Unfortunately, these subpar standards direct the aggression of the public toward the people trying to care for them rather than the real, root causes.
On the other side of the equation, the social workers within the industry are also victims of this situation. Over the recent years, studies conducted on the lives of these occupational demographics highlight their daily struggles. One observation revealed that a person’s degree of job satisfaction is dependent on various organizational aspects, such as one’s role and responsibilities within the team, social support and the opportunities for career advancement.
In 2001, a collection of six, in-depth interviews with senior occupational therapists also brought up important elements in the treatment of enduring mental illnesses. They all agreed that managing a mental disorder is a systemic problem. Not only do symptoms directly affect the people afflicted, the behavioral and emotional consequences of the patients’ actions impact the lives of their caretakers as well. This includes a patient’s connection with his or her therapist. Mental health professionals agree that working with chronic cases of mental illness is demanding, but this form of work is also balanced by a unique, intrinsic sense of reward. The emotional strain progresses as time goes on, which supports the need for timely and accurate diagnoses and treatment. Long-term issues include the complexity of problems and the need for clinicians to provide constant support over these lengthy periods of care. The researchers also found that supervision and discussing matters with colleagues were the primary methods of coping with heightened, work-related stress. The concept of teamwork and cooperation is an irreplaceable part of this social service.
Burnout in the field
Research also reviewed cases of burnout, which have unfortunately become a familiar issue within the mental health realm. The methods and conclusions made from this study incorporate more personal elements of this line of work. For example, data show that social workers value face-to-face contact with visitors as well as their personal commitment to them. Conversely, lacking the same value from their respective employers and members of society is one of the more common grievances for workers.
Another study hypothesized that a balance of compassion satisfaction and compassion fatigue were also indicative of lower burnout. Classified as frontline mental health care professionals (FMHPs), nurses, social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, case managers and many other mental health care workers must provide a high degree of care to clients. Exerting this level of compassion for others may carry a rewarding feeling, but physical and psychological complaints eventually build up as a result of stress and serious exhaustion in a person’s life.
These different studies prove that maintaining the emotional well-being of both clients and professionals in the mental health field benefits each group simultaneously. All sides of the overall issue share a heavy burden, as serious mental disorders and addictions affect entire communities rather than individual lives. Human beings are interactive, interdependent creatures, so it is crucial to uphold that relationships between the public and health care workers are dependent on the social and professional levels of mutual respect.
Sovereign Health of California is committed to the care of its clients and staff. If you or anyone you know in the field of mental health care needs extra support, we have the tools to help. Sovereign provides treatment programs for drug and alcohol addiction, mental health disorders and dual diagnosis conditions. To learn more about our programs or to talk to an admissions specialist, you can contact Sovereign via live chat online or over the phone.
Written by Lee Yates, Sovereign Health Group writer