Well-being and secondary traumatic stress of social workers in Namibia

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University of Namibia
Social workers and other caregtver professions are at risk of becoming negatively affected by the nature of their work. However, many reports also indicate positive outcomes, such as personal growth and finding meaning through working with trauma victims. General mental well-being refers not only to a state of absence of pathology; it refers to optimal well-being in tenns of self-perceived level of positive and negative affect, as well as satisfaction with life at a particular time in life (a dimension of emotional well-being); autonomy, environmental mastery, personal growth, positive relations with others, finding purpose in life and self-acceptance (dimensions of psychological well-being); and self-discovery, perceived development of one 's best potential, a sense of purpose and meaning in life, investment of significant effort pursuit of excellence, intense involvement in activities and enjoyment of activities as personally expressive (dimensions of eudaimonic well-being). Namibia, also being a post-war country, has many social problems which indicate severe and trauma-related conditions among the social workers' clients. Hence social workers are at risk of being negatively affected by the trauma in a vicarious fonn ; a condition closely related to the DSM-IV post traumatic stress disorder, and termed secondary traumatic stress. The aim ofthis research was to investigate the relationships between emotional well-being, psychological wellbeing, eudaimonic well-being and secondary traumatic stress in social workersof Namibia. A cross-sectional survey design was used with a sample population of 116 social workers of Namibia. The measuring instruments used were the Satisfaction with Life Scale, which was used to measure emotional well-being; Psychological Well-being Scale; Questionnaire for Eudemonic Well-being; and the Secondary Traumatic Stress Scale; as well as a biographical questionnaire. Statistical analysis was conducted in terms of descriptive, factor, correlation, canonical, multiple regression and mediation analysis. It was confirmed that Namibian social workers experienced an average level of satisfaction with life, together with psychological well-being; both constructs measured higher than eudaimonic well-being and secondary traumatic stress. The results showed that secondary traumatic stress was negatively related to the emotional, psychological and eudaimonic well-being of social workers. Psychological well-being, and particularly one dimension thereof, namely environmental mastery, mediated the relationship between secondary stress and satisfaction with life.
A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Degree of Master in Clinical Psychology
Traumatic stress