Working on the edge: Stresses and rewards of work in a front-line mental health service

Gillian Elaine Bowden, Joanna Christina Elizabeth Smith, Pamela Anne Parker, Matthew James Christian Boxall

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17 Citations (Scopus)


This study sought to investigate frontline mental health professionals' perceptions of work stress and the rewards and demands associated with their work. Locally known as ‘linkworkers’, and from a variety of professional backgrounds, these staff worked mainly in general practice settings. Individual interviews were conducted with nine linkworkers, and the interview transcripts were analysed thematically. The main themes identified were the following: demands, coping, individual resilience, ownership and creativity, boundaries, secure base and service philosophy and ethos. Themes, categories and sub categories were presented and discussed with seven of the linkworkers in two focus groups. Focus group transcripts were analysed, and additional themes of recognizing limitations, disillusionment and the dilemma of setting boundaries were identified. These themes overlapped with those previously identified but were associated with service changes over time. The themes of ownership and creativity and service philosophy and ethos are significant, not only in relation to their impact on individual linkworkers but also in terms of their relevance for establishing and maintaining morale, engagement and a reflective culture within a service. The relevance of this work to accessible and newly developing mental health services is considered. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)488-501
Number of pages14
JournalClinical Psychology & Psychotherapy
Issue number6
Early online date18 Jul 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2015


  • Work Stress
  • Mental Health

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