Psychological Capital Qualities and Psychological Well-Being in Australian Mental Health Professionals

  •  Shawn L. Koller    
  •  Richard E. Hicks    


The mental health of mental health professionals has not been studied in detail to date, yet the work is stressful and many have left the field. What are the positive qualities that help mental health workers cope with their work and what pressures do they face? The purpose of the current study was to examine the psychological qualities and experiences of 56 Australian mental health professionals and compare these qualities with those of a general working group sample of 78 respondents, in regard to the similarities and differences demonstrated in psychological capital, positive psychological well-being, coping strategies, and mental health (depression, anxiety and stress) characteristics. Results from our online survey showed that the Australian mental health workers in our sample scored significantly higher on positive psychological capital attributes of optimism and goal-directed hope; significantly higher on psychological well-being (especially in valuing personal growth, and environmental mastery); and they scored significantly higher in the ability to use emotional coping effectively. They scored similarly to the general workplace sample on the depression, anxiety and stress scales; and similarly on active coping strategies. Conclusions are that those mental health workers continuing in the profession generally have high psychological well-being, provide a positive environment for their clients through their “psychological capital” emphasising optimism and hope, and they deal with their own pressures through positive emotional coping.

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