Survey highlights the impact of stress on social workers’ performance at work

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7th January 2015 15:27 - Professional Services

A survey of 2,000 social workers on the frontline, has shown that approximately 80% feel that their level of stress is impacting on their performance at work.

The survey by Community Care has discovered that around a third of the social workers surveyed are resorting to alcohol, and just short of 1 in 5 (17%) are taking prescription medication – such as anti-depressants – to handle the pressure.

Nearly all of those who participated (97%) revealed that they were moderately to very stressed.

However, just 16% admitted they had been trained on how to deal with the stress of the job and less than a third had been offered support, such as counselling.

The survey revealed that the most prevalent reason for high stress levels was large caseloads, which are becoming more and more complex.  Closely following caseloads was the fear of bullying, and that something may go wrong.

One respondent divulged that the death of a child had affected confidence in their role, making them question their ability.  The respondent in question became unwell and resigned from her role – she had over 15 years’ experience at the time.

Another quote from a participant read: “Sometimes I get so overwhelmed by my to-do list, I feel like crying because everything is a priority and it’s impossible to deal with it all.”

The survey also identified that nearly 4 in 5 social workers are considering leaving their job, and a further two in three are thinking about leaving the profession indefinitely, due to stress.

When asked if they felt they could approach their manager about their concerns, approximately 50% claimed that they could not.

37% admitted that they had made their manager aware of the stress which they were facing, but nothing had been done as a result.

Of those who claimed they’d told their manager, 13% said that the issue worsened.

However, 47% believe that by just listening, their manager had helped them.

A comparison against last year’s survey has shown that levels of stress have increased.

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