Social Workers, Need Complex, and Professional Burnout

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all too true

This is exactly how I feel about my work and my agency. But unfortunately I don't see a way clear to take time for self-care. My role is to provide medical decision-making for "unbefriended" persons so my work literally involves life or death outcomes. My program is small and I am the only person that fills the role I fill, but my agency will not allocate any resources to covering me if I take time off.

C. B. more than 4 years ago


This is a systemic problem that has more to do with the system and the toxicity of the agency you’re involved with then your own behavior. It is the work can be very difficult, and for them to not a lot resources is very shortsighted. Unfortunately they will probably continue to use you until you tell them to stop.

Leigh Ann more than 4 years ago

You Must Care About Yourself, Too

It sounds like your work is too important to be compromised by burnout. The intensity and responsibility of your position must be overwhelming at times? Mistakes and poor decisions happen when you are emotionally exhausted. As social workers, our work is never done, but we can’t do it all by ourselves. Please think about yourself and take time off as needed. The major hospice in London offers 4 weeks of vacation and insists that workers take 1 week of vacation every 3 months so they can be effective. I hope you will speak with your boss again and that you will put yourself right in the center of your circle of caring.

Betsy Clark more than 4 years ago

Taking care of yourself

I agree 100% with the article and have seen this behaviour on a daily basis for years and years. The sad fact is as much as one tries to get their colleagues to see what they are doing to themselves, it isn’t enough. This behaviour has been the cultire of not just social care services but many services within the local authority and it is precisely this culture which needs extreme change. I tried so many times as a social worker and a UNISON steward to get my colleagues to see what was happening to them and how they were colluding in this behaviour with senior managers and the culture of the organisation.
Social workers are in my opinion one of the hardest working professions in the world. What they deal with on a daily basis some people don’t deal with in a lifetime. They give their goodwill constantly by working extra hours, not taking time off in lieu, not taking breaks, lunches and leave. They miss out on their own families and precious time with loved ones. When on holiday they often become ill due to the fact they have stopped working and their emotional and physical wellbeing are in complete shock.
Good will has become the norm and is expected, there’s little thanks from managers for for constantly going the extra million miles.
I’m not blaming social workers for colluding with this , good grief they haven’t got the time to notice they are colluding.
So when you get someone like me who comes along and rocks the boat, points out what is intrinsically wrong with the whole system and why we should work to rule to change things, you are labelled a trouble maker. The managers know what they are doing and by labelling you they frighten the rest of the workforce who then do nothing to back you up.
sadly UNISON aren’t really there for social workers as a whole and seem to concentrate their efforts on other causes such as lower paid staff and children’s centre closures (still an important issue) , however social workers need to have a strong advocate behind them to organise and motivate them to fight their cause
I miss my job in social care but was unable and to some extent unwilling to cope with the level of pressure that came with trying to fight the powers that be for better T&C’s, do my job and have a life.

Hayley more than 4 years ago



It has always puzzled me that social workers are outstanding advocates for others, but poor advocates for themselves. As long as we allow others and our agencies and institutions to take advantage of us, nothing will change. You may have been labeled a “trouble-maker,” but keep in mind, that most change agents are also called that. Best wishes to you.

Betsy Clark more than 4 years ago

Self-care is indeed important

Yeah, that really is. But even if we speak to our bosses technology is so profoundly use nowadays that even if you are not around they can still get a hold of you. The thing is that Social Workers are also human and therefire like other professionals we also need a break. Yes. We understand the need because of the agency constraints however it must not create a toxicity in the persons in the system.

Jovie Sorongon more than 4 years ago

Self Care A to Z 300x250


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