[United Kingdom] Social Workers Blamed for their Own Stress and Burnout

31 Jul 2019
The Guardian

A recent ‘Social Life’ blog post in The Guardian focuses on research carried out among 506 professionals registered with the Health and Care Professions Council in the UK, the majority of whom are currently practicing, which hoped to gain a better understanding of how professionals view resilience. According to the blog authors, ‘The dictionary defines it as the capacity to recover from trauma and stress. In practice, social workers are expected to identify and develop coping strategies to help manage the demands of their work’.

However, when asked what they think resilience means, the majority of participants said it has to do with responding to adversity; ‘A significant theme in the responses indicates a belief that whatever the difficult or unpleasant situation is, it should be borne by the individual’.

Another survey question asked about their employer’s understanding of resilience, and less than half the responses relied on organizational policies. Instead, many responses included examples like ‘not going off sick’ or ‘never complaining about increased workloads’.

The authors noted that the survey results, ‘indicate a disturbing trend that blames individual workers for stress, burnout and their inability to cope [which] places the focus for change on them’. Such a stance is quite dangerous for the profession as it overlooks the factors that contribute to burnout, and dismisses institutions from their responsibility in addressing this issue.


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