Job satisfaction and job dissatisfaction of mental health care workers are important issues that need to be tackled when considering the effectiveness of mental health care facilities. Acker (2004) showed that mental health social workers were more likely to continue staying on in their jobs and maintaining the quality of their service if they experienced a greater level of job satisfaction. The same can be said about other mental health care workers such as psychologists and psychiatrists.
Psychologists, particularly school psychologists, are some of the mental health care workers tasked with prevention and early intervention of mental problems. Worrell, Skaggs, & Brown (2006) explored the progress of job satisfaction felt by United States school psychologists over a period of 22 years. Out of 500 surveys mailed out by the researchers, 308 surveys were returned with approximately two-thirds of the 308 respondents having experience as school psychologists for a minimum of ten years. Worrell et al.
(2006) found that after 22 years, school psychologists’ rating of their job satisfaction had slightly increased. For the study, 83. 7% of the respondents indicated a satisfied rating for the category of over-all job satisfaction and 6. 9% gave a very satisfied score. Numerous factors contribute to the job satisfaction experienced by a school psychologist. “The school psychologist can find satisfaction in work that allows for self-direction and the freedom to exercise one’s judgment on the job. School psychologists also find satisfaction in working with colleagues.
” (Worrell et al. , 2006, 142) Many school psychologists indicated dissatisfaction was often due to a reduction of their roles to serve only as psychometricians, indicating a need to perform more counseling-related tasks. Lack of promotional opportunities and school policies remained, over the span of 22 years, two of the more dissatisfying aspects of school psychologists’ jobs. (Worrell et al. , 2006) Another study aimed at depicting the professional experience of social workers identified the various rewards and frustrations present in their work.
Life histories of ten social workers were qualitatively analyzed to reveal the said professional rewards and frustrations. Among the factors considered by the respondents as rewards of their work were professional experiences related to personal growth, which included relationships with their clients, facing new and challenging situations, and acquiring new skills for the profession. These allowed them to reflect on their own lives as well as challenged them professionally with regards to methods of handling and management of their client population.
These rewards were reported by the respondents as essential determinants on whether the respondents would stay on in their profession. (Francozo & Cassorla, 2004) Frustrations of social workers in their profession were identified more with bad working conditions. Dissatisfaction with the methods of other professionals they worked with, personal conflicts with the same, insufficient compensation, decreased access to promotions, and political interference all contributed to bad working conditions in the opinion of the interviewed social workers.
Not having their work recognized by their respective institutions also contributed to feelings of frustration. (Francozo & Cassorla, 2004) Newhill & Korr (2004) also helped identify frustrations felt by social workers dealing with clients with severe mental illness. Despite results shown by previous studies that social workers were abandoning their original goals of catering to those truly in need, Newhill & Korr (2004) found that clients with severe mental illness still continued to be one of the main concern of social workers.
Many social workers reported to have experience handling such patients. An investigation into the frustrations experienced while handling such clients, Newhill & Korr (2004) surprisingly found that many of the negative factors were related to the management of the facilities the social workers were affiliated with. Primary obstacles were identified not with the client but with the system including managed care regulations as well as difficulties in obtaining community resources. Rewarding aspects of working with individuals with severe mental illness were also identified by Newhill & Korr (2004).
According to social workers, some of the most rewarding aspects of working with severely mentally ill patients are seeing the progress of the patient as well as their response to the intervention initiated by the social worker. It is clear that social workers find the greatest reward from factors having to do with the status of their clients as well as their relationship with the same. Acker (2004) explored the following hypotheses about mental health social workers job satisfaction with regards to certain work factors:
1. Social workers experiencing higher levels of role conflict and ambiguity are more likely to have a reduced job satisfaction. 2. Social workers experiencing higher levels of social support at their job are more likely to have higher levels of job satisfaction. 3. Social workers experiencing higher levels of role conflict and ambiguity are more likely to intend to leave their job. 4. Social workers experiencing higher levels of social support at their job are less likely to intend to leave their job. 5.
Greater opportunities for professional development are associated with higher levels of job satisfaction. 6. Greater opportunities for professional development are associated with a reduced intention to leave the job. (Acker, 2004, 66) The results of the study confirmed the said hypotheses as well as the indicated relationships between variables as stated in the hypotheses. Strong relationships were revealed between role conflict, role ambiguity, social support, and opportunities for professional development and job satisfaction and mental health social workers’ intention to leave their jobs.
One of the more essential factors highlighted by the study was social support. Greater social support equipped mental health social workers with appropriate working environment to provide elevated quality of service. All factors that improved working conditions and cushioned mental health social workers from the dangers of their jobs increased the gratification they derived from their professional tasks. (Acker, 2004) Factors that improve workers’ provided service
Over-all, increasing mental health workers’ job satisfaction and gratification increased the quality of service they provide. (Acker, 2004; Francozo & Cassorla, 2004; Newhill & Korr, 2004) The greater the level of job satisfaction experience by a mental health worker also increased the probability that they would stay on in their jobs. This also determined the extent to which they would dedicate themselves to their job as well as the level to which they would strive to reach the goals of the institutions and facilities they worked for.
High attrition rates or increased frequency of mental health care workers to leave their jobs was seen to be adequately addressed by the utilization of mentoring programs. Research has shown a decrease in attrition rates with the use of such programs on nurses who work in the mental health industry. (Anonymous, 2003) Mentoring programs may prove an effective tool to improving services provided by other mental health care workers. A study by Jones, Menditto, Geeson, Larson, & Sadewhite (2001) also revealed that the level of training of mental health workers was directly related to the quality of service they provided.
Giving adequate education and training to mental health workers gives them the necessary knowledge for handling the problems and stresses that go with a profession in mental health care. (Jones et al. , 2001; Taylor & Bentley, 2005) One very concrete example of the effectiveness of training was seen in the study involving the training of paraprofessional staffs in psychiatric facilities. Training paraprofessional staff increased the success of mental health clients in their psychiatric therapies. Jones et al.
(2001) showed that training staff with regards to timely and consistent delivery of reinforcement for programs employed by the specific facility in which they work. The importance of training mental health paraprofessionals is specifically true for maximum-security psychiatric facilities implementing social-learning programs – the most effective program for treating severe psychiatric cases. Training was identified to be more effective when a technical/ integrated method was utilized and when training was focused on teaching learning-based interventions.
(Jones et al. , 2001) The more effective training goals per given facility can be identified with further research. According to Taylor & Bentley (2005), mental health workers should be trained and taught very early on to expect professional dissonance. Even during the education of mental health practitioners, experiencing and effective handling professional dissonance should be taught. Practitioners should be taught how to normalize the process of professional dissonance and other challenges they will face in their profession.
This includes acknowledgement of the fact that they will have to rely on and trust collegial support and supervision (Taylor & Bentley, 2005) Newhill & Korr (2004) also emphasized the importance of educating mental health social workers in accepting the fact that the clients they handle are individuals. Education must also be geared towards equipping social workers with knowledge on how to effectively assess and evaluate the client, especially clients with severe mental illness.
These facts were taken from the responses of social workers who had first-hand experience with individuals with severe mental illness. Improving the provided service for mental health not only lies in the importance of ensuring that the mental health workforce is well-trained but also relies in the characteristics of mental health workers. McGuire & Miranda (2008) specify the need to increase the proportion of racial mental health providers in order to address the noted racial disparity in mental health.
A more diverse workforce would assure culturally appropriate treatment as well as effective language skills for dealing with mentally ill individuals. On the same note, mental health care providers should also be educated in culturally-appropriate terms. Racial disparities in mental health can only be adequately addressed if the systems and facilities involved in mental health treatment involve themselves with staff that are equipped to handle specific cultural and racial boundaries creating the said disparity. References Acker, G. M. (2004).
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