Presentation Details

The Fourth International Conference on Knowledge, Culture and Change in Organisations

Mental Health Practice in a Managed Care Mental Health Environment

Dr Gila M. Acker.

This study explores the relationship between potential predictors related to the new mental health managed care structure and mental health care providers' occupational stress. Limited resources, increased controls by managed care companies, and an increased number of deinstitutionalized clients, often result in workers’ negative perceptions that their professional control and autonomy have diminished. The hypotheses of this study suggest that the more the demand for practitioners to provide services to clients who suffer from severe mental illness and serious behavioral problems the more they will experience role stressors and emotional exhaustion.
Data was collected from 458 mental health practitioners in New York State. Each respondent completed a self-administered anonymous questionnaire that included role conflict, role ambiguity, emotional exhaustion, job activities and clients’ characteristics scales.
The findings suggest that practitioners are negatively affected by working with clients who suffer from severe mental illness and behavioral problems. Practitioners with higher levels of education (MSWs) were found to be more conflicted and emotionally exhausted than those with lower levels of education (i.e., undergraduates).
These findings demonstrate that the new mental health environment offers challenges to mental health organizations and to social work and other human services educational institutions. The author suggests that both practitioners and students need to be prepared adequately for the realistic roles and demands that are required in the current mental health practice.


Dr Gila M. Acker  (United States)
Director, Social Work Program. Assistant Professor
Department of Social Sciences
York College of The City University of New York

A college professor of Social Work. Director of the Social Work Program. Publications and NIH grants. Areas of interest: Burnout, organizational stressors, job satisfaction, mental health, managed care. Teaching research methods in Social Work

  • Mental health
  • Organizations
  • Managed care

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)