The Social Work Professional Support Service is being delivered by the Scottish Association of Social Work
A new support service has been launched to help social workers through the pandemic.
Social workers are exhausted, worried about their mental health and feeling the strain on their relationships after more than a year of practising in the pandemic, a new study has shown.
The stark findings were shared in a health and wellbeing survey by the Social Workers’ Benevolent Trust. Three quarters of social workers describe themselves as emotionally and mentally exhausted. Of these, 17% said they are struggling to cope and 58.7% ‘just about coping’. Seventy per cent say they have worried about their mental health, while one in five had to take time off work with stress.
As a result of the pressure of working during the pandemic nearly a quarter – 24% – have sought professional help for their mental health. Nearly one in 10 – 8.5% – have tested positive for Covid-19 themselves and 15.6% have lost a family member or relative due to the virus.
News of the findings come as a free support service for social workers, funded by the Scottish Government, is being launched Scotland wide. The Social Work Professional Support Service is being delivered by the Scottish Association of Social Work, in partnership with Strengthening Practice, a relational social care training company with a proven history in coaching and support. The service offers social workers a space to talk and think through any personal or professional issues they may be facing, with a trained volunteer coach who is also a social worker. Social workers who want to support their peers can also volunteer to become coaches themselves and receive training in coaching and mentoring.
Alison Bavidge, national director of the Scottish Association of Social Work, said: “The Social Work Professional Support Service is designed by and for social workers to support, and be supported by colleagues across the profession. Social workers across the country have worked so hard to support vulnerable families, individuals, and communities throughout the covid-19 pandemic. The impact of this has been deeply felt by the social work community, and the need for service like this one is reinforced by the findings outlined in the Social Workers’ Benevolent Trust survey.”
Iona Colvin, chief social work advisor to the Scottish Government, said: “The Scottish Government is delighted to fund this much needed service to social workers across the country. This free service offers an essential space for social workers at any stage of their career to talk through personal and professional challenges and to find solutions and ways forward, supported by a volunteer coach who is also a social worker. We hope it will help to fill a vital gap in support for social workers across Scotland, as we continue to navigate our way through and out of the pandemic”.