Stress and burnout in community mental health nursing: a review of the literature


Correspondence: DeborahEdwards School of Nursing Studies University of Wales College of Medicine Heath Park Cardiff CF14 4XN UK


There is a growing body of evidence that suggests that many community mental health nurses (CMHNs) experience considerable stress and burnout. This review aimed to bring together the research evidence in this area for CMHNs working within the UK. Seventeen papers were identified in the literature, seven of which looked at stress and burnout for all members of community mental health teams (CMHTs) and the remaining 10 papers focused on CMHNs. The evidence indicates that those health professionals working as part of community teams are experiencing increasing levels of stress and burnout as a result of increasing workloads, increasing administration and lack of resources. For CMHNs specific stressors were identified. These included increases in workload and administration, time management, inappropriate referrals, safety issues, role conflict, role ambiguity, lack of supervision, not having enough time for personal study and NHS reforms, general working conditions and lack of funding and resources. Areas for future research are described and the current study of Welsh CMHNs is announced. This review has been completed against a background of further significant changes in the health service. In the mental health field, specific new initiatives will have a significant impact on the practice of community mental health nursing. A new National Framework for Mental Health, along with a review of the Mental Health Act (1983), will undoubtedly help to shape the future practice of mental health nursing.