Social work practitioners face significant challenges in their professional lives when advocating for marginalised and disadvantaged people who face deep structural inequalities, lack of resources and inaccessibility to social and health care services. Many service users are long-suffering, dispirited, and demoralised without hope for a better future. This is particularly the case in community based mental health services where social workers provide frontline counselling and advocacy to individuals with serious and persistent mental illness. Prolonged adversity takes a toll on the resilience of the service user while social work practice, aimed at counteracting such structural adversity, takes a toll on the resilience of the practitioner. Too often, community mental health agencies fail to recognise this toll and do little to support the resilience of social work practitioners. This study looks at practitioner perspectives on resilience and explores the idea of relational resilience as a buffer against burnout and compassion fatigue. The paper identifies themes from qualitative interviews with social workers on community mental health teams (CMH) in Ireland and assertive community treatment teams (ACT) in Canada who are involved in front line mental health services. The words ‘service user’ and ‘client’ are used interchangeably to reflect common usage in the two locations.