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Title: Lived Experiences of Stress among NHS Mental Health Support Workers : A Qualitative Study
Authors: Ojeme, Rita
Issue Date: 2023
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: Stress in healthcare has been studied mainly through the eyes of professionally recognised staff such as doctors and nurses. However, little attention has been given to the army of support staff who are providing frontline services. Informed by a qualitative and inductive approach, this study provides pertinent insights into the lived experiences of one such group: mental health support workers, who provide care to mentally ill patients. It contributes to the literature on work-related stress by eliciting a detailed understanding of the personal, interpersonal and organisational factors that cause stress to this understudied group within the UK’s National Health Service (NHS). The empirical material was gathered from 35 semi-structured interviews with mental health support workers, a field diary that captured the researcher’s lived experiences as a mental health support worker herself, and internal documents by the Trust in which the study took place. The use of an insider researcher enabled researching with rather than researching on mental health support workers, enabling an in-depth understanding of participants’ interpretations of what causes stress, its manifestations, and the institutional mechanisms aimed to address and reduce stress within the workplace. The findings demonstrate that mental health support workers face additional stressors that other healthcare professionals such as doctors and nurses are not exposed to. These include lack of professional recognition, replaceability, precarity of pay and working conditions, lack of employee voice and feelings of not being valued. Together, these make mental health support workers more susceptible to stress and less resilient to cope with it. Thus, these findings raise a number of pertinent questions for researchers, managers and policymakers regarding precarity of work, professionalisation and the prevalence of clinicians performing managerial roles
Description: Ph. D. Thesis.
Appears in Collections:Newcastle University Business School

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