Psychological correlates of well-being in direct care staff in services for children with intellectual disabilities and challenging behaviour.
University of Southampton, School of Psychology,
Working with people with learning disabilities can be stressful for direct care staff; as many as one-third of staff members in adult services experience stress levels indicative of a mental health problem. In addition to adverse effects on staff mental and physical health, staff
stress can impact on the delivery and quality of services for people with learning disabilities. Challenging behaviour is recognised as a significant source of staff stress. Both adults and children with learning disabilities
may display challenging behaviours including self-injury and physical aggression, the severity and frequency of which can be extremely distressing for staff exposed to them on a daily basis.
This thesis explored psychological mechanisms which may explain how challenging behaviour impacts on the well-being of care staff. Chapter One reviews the evidence for the roles of negative emotional reactions to challenging behaviour and the psychological resources of care staff in the development of stress and burnout. Chapter Two investigates whether experiential avoidance, thought suppression and mindfulness, which has been found to be significant predictors of mental health outcomes outside of the learning disabilities field, provides a psychological mechanism for understanding the relationship
between negative emotional reactions to challenging behaviour and staff well-being.
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