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The Occupational Hazards of Social Work

What is our relationship with work? How much of our lives do we spend at work? How does occupation influence other aspects of our lives? What does it mean to have a “good job” and when we tell someone to “get a job?”

For my Occupational & Environmental Health class last semester, I explored the unique occupational hazard of chronic job strain (or stress) and burnout in social work and caring professions. In public health, we are taught to conceptualize the causes of health outcomes on multiple levels: Individual (attitudes, beliefs), interpersonal (social pressures and norms), environmental (community or organizational dynamics), and societal (values held by the larger society). By mapping out elements on each level, we can comprehensively assess the problem—usually, an illness or disease—and develop appropriate interventions.

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