Disability professionals provide invaluable support for disabled students and advice and guidance for academic teams. Recent research has highlighted severe concerns about the mental health of students and also academic staff, but scant research interest is available on the mental health of professional services staff in the UK.
This survey was designed as an initial review of the perceptions of disability professionals working in UK institutions in relation to factors which may impact on mental health and wellbeing. It has revealed some pockets of excellent practice with disability professionals reporting a good working atmosphere, supportive teams, excellent work-life balance and effective management at every level.
However, the majority of respondents reported a difficult working environment both physically and emotionally. Their support came from colleagues at the same level, their professional association and immediate line managers. Many were disheartened and felt undervalued.
Respondents used strong and emotive terms to describe their distress. Some suggested that senior managers have struggled to manage the rapid move from a co-operative institutional environment to one that relies on both internal and external competition. Change management is a complex process that requires three-fold management; looking not only at outcomes but also interests and emotions. Research points to a concentration solely on outcomes at the expense of staff interests and emotions. Arguably this situation could be framed as breach of psychological contract.
This report suggests that institutions with staff reporting poor wellbeing need to take action immediately to ensure that support for their staff is re-established and support for disabled students continues successfully.
- Institutions review their process of change management.
- The Department for Education consider minimum recommendations for addressing the working conditions of disability professionals.
- The National Association of Disability Practitioners move to phase two of the research aiming to produce a positive model for change across the sector.
Any enquiries regarding this document/publication should be sent to the National Association of Disability Practitioners email: firstname.lastname@example.org