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Who ‘heals the healers’ in Myanmar’s mental health system?

Su Zar Mon, M.Sc (Counselling pyschology) explores the influence of work factors on burnout and job satisfaction for mental health social workers in Myanmar. Her study involved over two hundred mental health social workers and looked at the influence of workload, control, reward, community, fairness and value on job satisfaction, mediated by different dimensions of 'burnout'. Here are her five lessons…

1. Health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely of lack of disease or infirmity. In the same way, mental health is not just the absence of mental disorder. Rather, it is a state of well-being in which an individual realizes his or her own potential, is able to cope with the normal stresses of life, work productively, and make a contribution to one’s community. Given the importance of health in a person's life, it is not surprising that mental health is a heavily-discussed matter in the health field as well as broader society. Yet, concern for the mental health of counselors and other mental health social workers is not as widespread, even though these are the very people who take responsibility for supporting other people's mental health care.

2. There are many challenges that mental health social workers have to face. Frequently, they have to work with people who face life struggles and crises that can often give rise to both high emotional distress and low social support. Since the nature of the job is highly stressful and demanding, the psychological well-being of mental health social workers has to be considered important.

3. Most forms of social services are strongly client-centered and are predominantly of one significant theme: “a gradual yet incessant search for ways to help troubled people”. While the mental health social workers are at the coal-face in treatment of the mentally ill, the question arise as to "who heals the healers". My study will help mental health social workers (MHSW) to identify how contextual work factors effects their psychological well-being and the finding will motivate organizations and their trainers, university in Myanmar, via the department of psychology, to adopt new curricula that may provide these MHSW how best deal to with stress and emotional exhaustion that come with their work.

4. For mental health social workers in Myanmar, the factors of workload, control over their work environment, and perceived fairness in how they are treated in their job have direct influences on their level of job satisfaction. Worked exerted both direct and indirect influences on job satisfaction, being mediated by depersonalization and negative personal accomplishment. Fairness indirectly influenced job satisfaction, being mediated by depersonalization. The results also revealed that workload was positively associated with emotional exhaustion. Emotional exhaustion, however, was not significantly associated with the participants’ level of job satisfaction.

5. My study highlights the importance of workload and fairness in creating and maintaining healthy work environments that can prevent burnout and increase job satisfaction among mental health social workers in Myanmar.

Su Zar Mon can be reached on Linked In… and another pieces by her is available at

pic: JIJI

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