How Can #SocialWorkers Build Resilience And Avoid “Burnout” Using #Mindfulness #GuardianOnLine

The #GuardianOnLine held a Q&A session yesterday to discuss how #employers, #managers and #socialworkers can create teams that are both physically and mentally able to cope with the stress and trauma that their jobs can create.

“BurnOut” risks are very high in an already struggling sector where social workers are in short supply. Managers and employers need to implement as a matter of urgency strategies that help people to continue working without suffering from work related stress or mental health problems.

At MindfulnessUK we have been working very closely with Anna Elliott who is head of the Somerset County Council Children and Families Learning and Development Team.

Anna Elliott contributed to the on-line Q&A session and this is what she had to say about how MindfulnessUK has assisted and supported her and her team.

“We have been running a mindfulness pilot in Somerset. Offering the 8 week MBSR course to supervisors and managers via Mindfulness UK. This is about developing mindful leadership , giving people the space to be rather than just to react. Social Work is such a reactive culture and I think mindfulness and compassion can be a really helpful approach to support peoples emotional wellbeing. It in no way however is intended to replace organizational support and responsibility to ensure manageable workloads , good quality supervision, high quality training and career progression”

Comments from other contributors regarding their experience with how #mindfulness has played a part are listed below.

” I would like to echo this. I developed mindfulness practice over ten years ago during a stressful period in my work. I don’t practice every day but it is an inner resource that is always available to me – and it has been crucial at key moments in my working life. No one can take it away from you once you have found a way to return to a settled centre. Just a few minutes can settle a chaotic situation and enable you to reengage with clarity. It is not panacea for poorly framed job roles and lack of control over managing work, but it is a fantastic tool that you can take with you anywhere”

“By encouraging simple daily practices such as mindful breathing or taking a short break away from the desk at lunch time we can create a sense of balance, ease and energy. The key is to encourage more mindfulness into our work days”

“Totally agree – our mindfulness programmes in East Sussex and West Berks are very much part of a wider conversation on staff wellbeing and care and not just a ‘sticking plaster’. In addition to the direct benefits for stress management and wellbeing, I’m so heartened to hear that some social workers feel their mindfulness practice is helping them be more present with service users and improve social work practice. Part of supporting resilience is having meaning in our work – if mindfulness can help staying present, managing the emotional content of the work and reduce risk of compassion fatigue, there is so much promise here for both practitioners and for the people we work with”

“Mindfulness is much more integrated in Canadian curriculums and social work practice. In Uni Calgary there was a module on the Masters which integrated an 8 week mindfulness course with ‘top and tail’ on theory and applications to social work practice. I have taught Masters Students at Uni Sussex for a short session and hope one day that we have more of this elective style system for resilience modules. Mindfulness is one way (and is mine!) but there are other elective modules which be of great benefit focusing on other evidence based approaches like CBT, exercise etc”

There is little doubt that Mindfulness can and clearly does contribute and play a part in helping staff in high stress jobs to manage stress and create a feeling of wellbeing, reducing the risk of “BurnOut” and the loss of much valued staff.

The full Q&A session regarding this subject can be found here..