Caregivers and Mental Health Professionals

These programmes offer a short-term stress-management and coping support system for caregivers and mental health professionals (e.g. social workers, counsellors, psychologists, nurses). It assists them to become more effective in their work by allowing them an emotionally safe space to identify feelings and thoughts related to their work and to help them to develop a peer support network.

Statement of Need

At the heart of a caregiver’s work is the desire to make a difference in people’s lives. They provide a safe, supportive and confidential space to help people face their problems in a non-judgemental way. They are trained to listen attentively to their clients and offer them the time, empathy and respect they need to express their feelings and perhaps understand themselves from a different perspective. Caregivers often struggle to balance the overwhelming needs in their communities with their own needs, due to a lack of access to resources such as adequate supervision and administrative facilities. Research done in 2007 provided statistics for Cape Town whereby there were 5000 clients to 1 social worker, whilst nationally that figure was even worse at 5446 clients to 1 social worker (http://www.iol.co.za/news/south-africa/social-services-to-get-big-shot-in-the-arm-1.354561?ot=inmsa.ArticlePrintPageLayout.ot). An article in the Southern Suburbs Tatler (17th October 2013) emphasises how caregivers are vital to helping those in need. Rene Fisher of the Alexander Hospital in Maitland says that, “caregivers require a proper support system to do their jobs effectively” and that these caregivers are the ones who are relied upon to help others but often don’t get help themselves when needed (Southern Suburbs Tatler, 17th October 2013, p6). The combination of these factors leads to workplace stress, inefficiency, emotional burnout, empathy exhaustion, and sometimes even incidences of malpractice, as care work is reduced to crisis management, rather than the supportive and healing profession that it was designed to be. Through participating in a study for a Clinical Social Work Masters’ dissertation, the Equinox facilitators have seen a need for a psychosocial support system for social workers and other professionals in the caring profession.

Programme Goals
  • To offer a short-term stress-management and coping support system for caregivers and mental health professionals (e.g. social workers, counsellors, psychologists, nurses)
  • To help caregivers and mental health professionals to become more effective in their work by allowing them an emotionally safe space to identify and process feelings and thoughts related to their work
  • To help caregivers and mental health professionals to identify and address how their work affects them in a personal capacity and therefore improve their functioning as a professional
  • To help caregivers and mental health professionals to reconnect with one another and develop a peer support network, helping them to feel less isolated in their experiences with clients.
  • To assist caregivers and mental health professionals to be more self-reliant and create an overall picture of well-being and empowerment.
Programme Outcomes
  • Improve ability to use their available support network
  • Increase self-confidence in providing a professional service to their clients
  • Help reduce work-related stress and burn out thereby stabilising the profession
  • Increase self-awareness and personal insights
  • Improve verbal and non-verbal communication skills
  • Improve problem-solving skills
Programme Detail
  • Six weekly 1-hour sessions
  • 6 participants