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Perceived inability to help is associated with client‐related burnout and negative work outcomes among community mental health workers

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Community mental health is a vital service, but it faces ongoing challenges from its high staff‐turnover rates. The current study provides a preliminary test of a novel explanation for employee disengagement in community mental health. It is proposed that providing assistance to clients, while simultaneously feeling that only limited progress is being made, is associated with client‐related burnout among community mental health providers, leading to negative work outcomes. Employees (N = 349) from three non‐governmental community mental health organisations in Australia completed a survey assessing their perceptions of client improvement from treatment, client‐related burnout and a range of organisational outcomes. Analyses revealed that perceptions that clients are not improving was associated with burnout, which in turn is related to lower job satisfaction, decreased job engagement, poorer workplace well‐being, and increased turnover intentions. These findings suggest that interventions that highlight positive changes among clients could reinforce the important service provided by community mental health employees and may minimise burnout and negative work outcomes.
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Keywords: client‐related burnout; community mental health services; engagement; job satisfaction; turnover intentions; workplace well‐being

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2019

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