Coping with work-related stressors and building resilience in mental health workers: a comparative focus group study using interpretative phenomenological analysis

Danielle Lamb, Nicola Cogan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Experiencing excessive stress in the workplace can lead to mental ill health, which has costs both personally for individuals and for the wider economy in terms of lost working days. This study used two in-depth focus groups, one with NHS mental health workers (n = 9) and one with Samaritans' volunteers (n = 8), to investigate how they cope with work-based stressors, and build and maintain resilience. The qualitative data derived from the focus groups were compared and analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis to gain an in-depth understanding of the lived experiences of those working in both statutory and voluntary adult mental health settings. Four superordinate themes emerged: (1) Perceived lack of control as a stressor; (2) Ways of building resilience; (3) The dual impact of values; and (4) The effect of environment. The implications of these findings are discussed in the context of recommendations for training to help foster resilience within mental health care systems, along with possible areas of future investigation. Practitioner points: Resilience has been shown to be an important element in allowing those working and volunteering in mental health settings to cope with the stressors inherent in their chosen field. Allowing staff reasonable control over their work, and providing an adequate environment in which to carry out their work, is conducive to building and maintaining resilience. Consideration should be given to the dual nature of some elements of working in a mental health context, in terms of both the positive and negative impact they can have (e.g., values and environment). Training programmes using aspects of developments such as mindfulness and acceptance and commitment training may also be able to contribute to building and maintaining resilience in mental health workers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)474-492
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology
Volume89
Issue number3
Early online date11 Sep 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sep 2016

Keywords

  • acceptance and commitment therapy
  • burnout
  • mental health workers
  • mindfulness
  • NHS
  • occupational stress
  • resilience
  • Samaritans
  • work engagement
  • work-based stress

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