Beyond Burnout: Aquired Capability for Suicide and Suicidal Ideation in Mental Health Professionals
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. Healthcare professionals, including mental health practitioners, appear to be at elevated risk for suicide compared to the general population. Burnout is known to be a risk factor for suicidality in occupational populations. Additionally, acquired capability for suicide has been shown to be a consequence of provocative work-related experiences in specific healthcare worker populations. However, no studies have explored how provocative mental health work-related events (e.g., recounting trauma narratives, observing impact of self-harm, discussions of death and dying) might contribute to acquired capability for suicide and burnout in mental health practitioners. The aim of this study was to examine how provocative mental health work-related events might contribute to both burnout and acquired capability for suicide and how these constructs would be related to suicidal ideation in a mental health practitioner population. This online study protocol collected cross-sectional self-report data (N = 234) from graduate students and practicing practitioners of mental health services (e.g., clinical psychologists, clinical social workers, mental health counselors). The study actively recruited practitioners who provided psychological testing services and those who provided mental health treatment. Results found burnout to be positively associated with suicidal ideation, but not above and beyond depressive symptoms. The frequency of provocative mental health work-related events was only positively associated to burnout for practitioners who exclusively provided mental health treatment and no psychological testing services. Specifically, burnout scores increased as frequency of provocative mental health work-related experiences increased for practitioners who spent all their patient-facing hours intervening on psychological symptoms. However, frequency of provocative mental health work-related experiences was not found to be associated with acquired capability for suicide or suicidal ideation. These finding suggest that mental health practitioners who exclusively provide mental health treatment may be at greater risk for burnout from provocative mental health related experiences compared to practitioners who do not. Implications and limitations of the study are discussed. Future research should look to examine these relationships longitudinally and consider which provocative mental health work-related events contribute the most to burnout.
Clinical psychology|Mental health
Corcoran, Vincent P, "Beyond Burnout: Aquired Capability for Suicide and Suicidal Ideation in Mental Health Professionals" (2022). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI10928696.