OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to work collaboratively with a rural Community Mental Health Team (CMHT) to examine the issue of workplace stress and address issues specified by the group.
METHOD: A five stage action research method following the Susman and Evered Model of Change was implemented for this research with four distinct cycles completed.
RESULTS: A cyclic process of action research established that organizational policies, clinical skills and educational levels of staff were inadequate. Two overarching themes drove the research cycles: staff safety and inadequate education of nursing staff to assess and appropriately manage consumers with mental health issues.
CONCLUSIONS: This study found that unsafe environmental conditions in the health workplace and limited staff knowledge contributed to workplace stress. Staff identified as vital strategies to manage aggressive or potentially aggressive incidents effectively and ensure staff and client safety. Managers, policy makers and government officials need awareness of the threats to healthy workforces. Tools to guide practice and staff education were implemented to address the identified problems.