Having closely viewed some thought-provoking posts by both Ms Melancholy and Stray, I got to thinking about my own experience as a Mental Health Worker in various roles and settings, stretching back almost a decade and a half. Its not beyond the realms of possibility that I may publish some posts in the near future about this. As yet, I'm not sure precisely what form this/these might take.
Whatever I might come up with, here's what I'm posting as a starting point: I don't want to do it anymore. The job, that is.
Working in this area can be very challenging and stressful - though not for the reasons people tend to think. I think I've grown and learned something from the most difficult and challenging situations and interactions with people. I'm sure I've discovered plenty about myself as well. Then there's the wealth of times when things go well, are positive, when people move forwards in all sorts of ways (or even just stop moving backwards quite so quickly). Its not the clients (or whatever term you wish to use) that are making me want to leave, far from it.
The structure of service provision - and, crucially, funding - has changed in recent years. It has led to the provision of an increasingly target-based, outcome-led service which to my mind treats people more as statistics than individuals. I've no problem with accountability and so forth, but I think the balance has tipped too far. What targets can you set for the days when taking the time to listen or just being there for someone may be what they need at that particular moment in time? No boxes get ticked for these moments, no clear progress can necessarily be measured: no markers for what can be a valuable experience upon which rapport (and other benefits) may be built. Until very recently however, these changes haven't had such an impact on my work, and again don't constitute the reason that I want to get out.
The amount of paperwork we now have to complete is astonishing. Everything has to be signed for and agreed, and the time taken to carry this out ("did you just breathe out then? You need to sign this box here...and here if you breathe in again") regularly gets in the way of the work that we're supposed to be doing. It also reflects on the changes mentioned above: it seems less important to be supporting individuals, than to be seen to be supporting individuals, and having their signature to prove it. Its a pain, and its tedious. Even so, its do-able - just . As above though, this on its own or in combination with any of my other moans, is not reason enough for my wishing to bid it all farewell.
The wages? Don't even go there.
I could go on, but it would be sidestepping. The thing is, there's just something besides all this which, if I ignore it, will be to my peril.
Its me. There's not enough of me in this job, not anymore. I'm not fulfilled, my heart is no longer in it. There are other things I need to do, and I need to find out how. I need to get back to being seriously creative. I need a real change. Apart from applying for other jobs, I'm puzzling at the moment as to precisely how to go about it. I'm not even asking for answers or suggestions from anyone who might read this: I'm just posting on where I'm at right now. Perhaps this will serve as my own marker from which I can start moving forwards (or even sideways). I hope so.