Well in my case it is true, but not because I wasn’t any good at being a Social Worker. I like to think I did ok at my profession. But the saying is right for me! You see I can no longer DO Social Work as I used to – because I burnt out. I pushed on through all the warning signs until I was too far gone to recover. Social Work Self-care really does matter.
And so my mission now is to TEACH current Social Workers. To share the knowledge and skills and hopefully awareness so that you can continue to do what you do, long into your professional journey. When I say teach it is in a loose way. I don’t believe self-care and professional sustainability is something we just teach and be done with. It is an ongoing process of self-awareness, learning, adapting, reskilling, and taking an honest look at our own needs. My role is to enable you to have access to resources and support to integrate them into your working life. Your job is to believe you are worthy of self-investment for your Social Work Self-care.
Through the process of my recover from the major depressive episode that was the result of my professional burnout I have had to take a close look at who I was as a practicing Social Worker and what I did to contribute to my situation. I also, having stepped away from the front line, was able to see clearly how the system and structure of social work practice also contributed to my demise.
I don’t see Burnout as an individual’s ‘problem’, I know there is a far greater issue about the way Social Work is seen, structured and delivered worldwide. However the people that end up suffering are the individual Social Workers, who develop mental health conditions as a result of their work, who become demoralized and desensitized about their own needs. So until we find a way to fix the broken system I encourage you to take the time to support yourself within it. We must prioritise Social Work Self-care.
So for now I teach, and I encourage you to lean in and learn more – it might just be what you need to save your career and protect your mental health.
‘Because YOU Care – SOS (Saving Our Social Workers) commences 12th August as an online program for practicing Social Workers in the UK, Australia and New Zealand.