Workplace resilience and emotional labour of Australian mental health nurses: Results of a national survey

Cynthia Delgado, Michael Roche, Judith Fethney, Kim Foster

Research output: Contribution to journalSpecial issuepeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)


Emotional labour is a form of adversity faced by mental health nurses in the context of their workplace interactions. Frequent exposure to emotional adversity can negatively impact mental health nurses’ biopsychosocial well-being, workplace relationships, and performance. Workplace resilience is a dynamic interactive process within and between the person and their environment that promotes positive adaptation to adverse events and restores well-being. Workplace resilience could be a protective process that helps mental health nurses positively adapt to workplace emotional adversity. This study aimed to investigate Australian mental health nurses’ workplace resilience and emotional labour and explore the relationship between them. A national cross-sectional online survey comprising the Resilience at Work and Emotional Labour scales was completed by registered nurses (n = 482) working in a mental health role or setting across Australia. There was a strong negative relationship between resilience and the emotional labour strategy of surface acting. A positive association between resilience, frequency of emotional labour, and clinical supervision was also found. These findings point to a potential link between mental health nurses’ skills of cognitive reframing, and emotional and behavioural regulation needed to effectively manage their emotions and remain therapeutic in interpersonal interactions. Clinical supervision may be a key strategy in supporting mental health nurses’ resilience. Further investigation of workplace individuals’ internal and external resources, and organizational resources, supports, and strategies that can promote and strengthen mental health nurses’ well-being is needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-46
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Mental Health Nursing
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 19 May 2020
Externally publishedYes


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