B7: Worker self-care

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Key Points

  • Working directly with clients with comorbid AOD and mental health conditions can be an incredibly rewarding and satisfying experience, but is not without considerable challenges. AOD workers often experience high levels of stress and are at risk of burnout.
  • The most common workplace stress for AOD workers is the stress associated with workload and time pressures, but other stressors include concerns about whether your work is making a difference, whether you have the necessary skills and are effective in your role, whether your work is valued and adequately remunerated, workplace conflict, lack of supervisory and collegial support, and job uncertainty.
  • As such, it is important that AOD workers ensure they take the time for self-care. Strategies incorporating a holistic approach to AOD worker self-care reduce psychological responses to client trauma and workplace stress, and increase the capacity to respond to workplace situations.
  • Active coping strategies can help reduce the risk of clinical burnout, and include physical, emotional, and professional self- care. Further, workplace engagement and appreciating the impact and value of your work can reduce the risk of burnout.
  • Clinical supervision can also help reduce workplace stress and burnout by providing a mechanism of support for staff.

Worker self-care

Working with clients who have co-occurring AOD and mental health conditions can be a fulfilling and satisfying experience. Having the opportunity to work directly with clients, and to observe and share the triumphs and tribulations of their personal journeys, can be extremely professionally rewarding. However, working in this area is not without considerable challenges. Although a manageable level of workplace stress is normal and can even be motivating, AOD workers often experience high levels of stress, and in some cases burnout. As such, it is critically important that AOD workers set aside time to manage and pay attention to their self-care.