Supporting mental health staff following exposure to occupational violence – staff perceptions of ‘peer’ support

Lara Bakes-Denman, Yolanda Mansfield, Tom Meehan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Mental health professionals frequently work in environments where stressful, unpredictable, and potentially volatile situations can arise. Staff responses to these, often violent events, can be severe and enduring. Psychological first aid provided by a colleague following exposure to such violence is gaining increasing acceptance as a means of assisting affected individuals. However, there has been little attention to how staff perceive this support. In this study, interviews were conducted with 13 staff employed in a secure facility and thematically analysed using content analysis. Four content themes emerged: responding to emotional distress, empowering staff through practical support, the good provider, and resilience. The results indicate that staff value and benefit from receiving support from peers following exposure to occupational violence. Most would access peer support again and would consider recommending it to others. A small number choose not to engage with the programme and the reasons for this are also discussed. This type of peer support could be applied in other high-risk workplaces as a key element of an integrated and comprehensive workplace violence prevention and management strategy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)158-166
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Mental Health Nursing
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


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