Is burnout an occupational phenomenon? Yes, says the World Health Organization

Is burnout an occupational phenomenon? Yes, says the World Health Organization

June 03, 2019

Is burnout an occupational phenomenon? Yes, says the World Health Organization

Mental Health

Have you been experiencing the overwhelming feeling of exhaustion, negativity, and distraction at work? The “one of those days” not being limited to just one day anymore? Guess what is to blame? No, it is not your boss. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), these symptoms are caused due to the phenomenon known as “burnout.”

Earlier, burnout was defined as a state of severe exhaustion and had been linked with problems related to life management. However, in the latest revised version of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD)-11, which comes into effect in 2022, WHO has officially categorized workplace burnout as an occupational phenomenon.

What was the classification based on? 

The classification of burnout was based on three factors namely:

  • High level of mental detachment from the job and/or feelings of negativity towards it.
  • Severe exhaustion and reduction in energy level.
  • Drop in professional productivity.

Speaking further on the classification, WHO said that burnout is a syndrome which is a result of chronic workplace stress. It further added that it specifically refers to burnout in the context of workplace and career and should not be applied to other fields of life.

Implications of burnout

The primary reason why WHO has included burnout as a phenomenon in the ICD -11 is to ensure that an individual suffering from the same is able to seek and access help.

Dan Schawbel, research director at HR advisory firm Future Workplace, termed this phenomenon as an epidemic. He further added that he expected this condition to worsen in the near future. People are getting stressed and burned out because employers are taking advantage of their employees and workers. This leads to the employee feeling underpaid and overworked.

Another point of concern highlighted by experts was the problem of suicide. Extreme stress levels and burnout trigger a lot of professionals, especially from the medical fraternity, to commit suicide.

The impact of burnout is not felt by only the employees. According to a past study, around 95 percent human resource leaders across the country have stated that burnout and stress hampers employee retention. It has also been noted that burnout prevents professional growth and success.

How to overcome stress

An average American employee gets 10 days of paid vacation a year but due to the heavy workload, they often skip these. Moreover, companies do not have effective programs to counter burnout. In addition to the mentioned causes, technology also contributes to burnout. Email and official phone calls outside office hours are adding to the burden. In fact, not having a cell phone is a new form of holiday.

Therefore, to counter the effects of burnout, one needs to take steps to keep a check on undue stress and burden. A few simple yet effective things a person can do to reduce stress at work are:

  • Take a walk – Going outside the office for a while and taking a walk can do wonders to reduce stress. It helps in calming one down and makes one feel rejuvenated.
  • Writing it down – One would not believe how much stress is relieved just by jotting down the problems on paper. It helps in getting the negative thoughts out of the mind. When the eye sees the problems on paper, the mind realizes that they are not so big and can start working on solving them one by one.
  • Exercise – Simple exercise like jogging on the spot, skipping, deep breathing, and even stretching can help in de-stressing.
  • Talking to someone – Just like writing down the problems, talking about them to someone helps in reducing negativity and taking the mind off them. Talking about them to another person might also offer a different perspective and a solution to the problem.
  • Music – Past studies have proved that music is therapeutic. Listening to music helps in relaxing and unwinding and turning a stressed out mood into a happy mood within minutes.

Treatment for mental health

Mental disorders can be overwhelming. Untreated mental disorders even more so. They can severely impact all aspects of a person’s life reducing the quality of living, damaging relationships, affecting performance in school and workplace, increasing the susceptibility to substance abuse, and promoting suicide ideation. Therefore, it is imperative that the afflicted individual seeks timely diagnosis and treatment.

If you or a loved one is battling mental health disorders, Invictus Health Group can help. We can connect you with the state-of-the-art residential mental health treatment centers offering research-backed and effective treatment programs that can be customized to suit a patient’s treatment requirements. For more information about the latest in mental health treatment, call our 24/7 helpline 866-548-0190 and speak to a member of our team. You can also chat online to a representative for further assistance.

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