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Impact of crisis line volunteering on mental wellbeing and the associated factors: a systematic review

Publication of Innovations in Care
Constance Drossaert, P. Vuijk, Ernst Bohlmeijer, R.C.W.J. Willems | Article | Publication date: 03 March 2020
Crisis line services, operated by volunteers, have been proven to be effective in decreasing psychological pain and preventing suicidality. Although working at the crisis line may be rewarding, for some the confrontation with highly complex topics (i.e., suicidality, abuse, and loneliness) in combination with inappropriate calls (i.e., sexually abusive calls), may lead to distress or vicarious trauma. The aim of this paper is to systematically review the studies that have examined mental wellbeing of crisis line volunteers and the factors associated with it. Thirteen published empirical studies on the topic were found. These showed that crisis line volunteers are at increased risk of declined mental wellbeing. However, a wide range of operationalizations were used and most studies did not use validated instruments. On the other hand, studies showed that many volunteers experience satisfaction and gratification from their work. This review gives insight into some of the work-related, organization-related, and volunteer-related factors that may be associated with the decrease of mental wellbeing. More high quality, comprehensive, and quantitative research using validated instruments is urgently needed to assess the impact of the work on mental wellbeing and the relative impact of influencing factors.

Author(s) - affiliated with Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences

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