Approved Mental Health Professional National Survey 2012

In 2002 I was a member of a research team headed by Professor Peter Huxley which conducted a national survey of stress and burnout in mental health social workers. Our findings were quite disturbing.

We found that almost half of respondents met the threshold for a common mental disorder such as anxiety and depression. Mental health social workers were more emotionally exhausted than psychiatrists in a parallel study. The findings for Approved Social Workers were even more worrying. They took more sick leave than mental health social workers who were not approved and were less satisfied with their employment. We suggested that extending the statutory role to other mental health professionals would increase levels of stress, burnout and dissatisfaction in these groups also.

In comparison with a previous survey, we also found that the rate of Approved Social Workers per 100,000 population in 2002 had decreased by over 50% since 1992. (This was likely to have been used as ammunition by the Department of Health for the widening of the statutory role to other mental health professionals.)

Finally, in spite of suffering high levels of stress and burnout, mental health social workers told us that they valued their face to face contact with service users. Their commitment to service users was an important factor in job retention.

Ten years on, we are now conducting a follow-up national study of Approved Mental Health Professionals (AMHPs). We are using some of the same measures as in the survey conducted in 2002 to evaluate changes in stress and burnout amongst mental health social workers over the last decade. However, as this is the first national survey since the widening of the statutory role to other mental health professionals, it will allow us to compare levels of stress and burnout in social work and non-social work AMHPs for the first time. The survey will provide important data to inform AMHP policy and practice nationally.

The other novel element to this national survey is that it is being conducted online and we will be using social media to promote it. This allows us to potentially invite all AMHPs working in England to participate in the survey – but only if they get to hear about it. This is where you come in. There are three ways in which you can help to promote the survey:

1) If you are an Approved Mental Health Professional working in England, please take the survey if you have not done so already. The link is below.

2) If you know an Approved Mental Health Professional working in England, please email them the link to the survey.

3) If you don’t know any Approved Mental Health Professionals working in England but want to help distribute the survey, please use social media tools such as twitter, facebook, linkedIn, or whatever you use to connect with other people, to send the link around.

Let’s test the six degrees of separation hypothesis and see if we can contact all the AMHPs working in England to invite them to participate in the survey. It is important that AMHPs from all professional backgrounds participate in the study. However, we would particularly like to encourage those from a non-social work background to take part as they are still relatively small in number.

The online survey takes only 10-15 minutes to complete and an information sheet containing further details about the study is displayed on the first page. If you would like to read more about and/or complete the survey please click on the link below:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/stressandthestatutoryrole

This study is being led by Janine Hudson, an experienced AMHP studying the MSc Mental Health Social Work with Children & Adults programme at the Institute of Psychiatry. The survey questionnaire has been pre-tested by AMHPs and other social workers. The survey will remain open until March 2012.

Thank you in advance for your time and support.

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