- Working directly with clients with co-occurring mental health and AOD 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 experiencing burnout, compassion fatigue, and vicarious trauma.
- 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 can help AOD workers in managing workplace stress and responding to workplace situations.
- Active coping strategies can help reduce the risk of clinical burnout, compassion fatigue, and vicarious trauma, 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.
- Organisational factors, such as the provision of adequate clinical supervision, may also help in preventing and assisting with the management of work-related stress.
Working with clients who have co-occurring mental health and AOD 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. Other stress-related reactions can include compassion fatigue and vicarious trauma (also referred to as secondary traumatic stress). Stress is experienced when task demands exceed a person’s available personal and social resources . As such, it is critically important that AOD workers manage and pay attention to their self-care.