Did you know yesterday, October 10, was World Mental Health Day?
The objective of World Mental Health Day is to raise awareness of mental health issues and to mobilize efforts in support of mental health.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health and more specifically, burnout, have become an increasingly discussed topic, especially when centered around the workplace. A survey by Public Health Agency of Canada in 2020 and again in 2021 saw an increase from 19% - 23% in stress and anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic. As workers return to the workplace or remain working remotely permanently, a shift in routine is afoot. Being a parent, a good friend, having multiple jobs, being a student and more, also adds to the weight.
This World Mental Health Day, let’s discuss “burnout”.
What is Burnout?
Burnout results from an accumulative overload of stress and causes adversarial mental or physical health conditions. When a person’s adaptive capabilities are overextended, repeatedly, burnout can occur.
Effects of Job Burnout
General effects include:
- Being cynical or critical at work or always having a negative or suspicious response to work conditions
- Struggling to get to work or having trouble being productive
- Being irritable or impatient with co-workers, customers or clients
- Lacking energy, or feelings of apathy or hopelessness
- Being tired, forgetful, or lack of attention
- Lack of satisfaction from your achievements or lack of enjoyment in activities outside of work
- Feeling unappreciated for your work or contributions
- Disillusionment about your job, feelings of detachment, or being disconnected
- Feeling the need to use food, drugs, or alcohol to feel better or to simply not feel
- That your sleep habits have changed (having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep)
- That your appetite has changed (over or under-eating)
- Being troubled by unexplained headaches, backaches, or other physical complaints
The Centre of Expertise on Mental Health in the Workplace has[GU2] ten tips and tools to help prevent burnout including sections on:
- Assessing your personal risk for burnout
- Reducing your risk for burnout
- Building a personalized stress management plan
- Planning for resilience
- And more
View the full list on the Government of Canada website.
As of June 1, 2022, all Ontario workplaces are required to have a disconnecting from work policy for all staff. Learn more in our blog post here.
Here are a few steps you can take to beat the burnout blues:
- Take action and try job crafting
- Take time to recover
- Make time for exercise
- Eat well
- Be mindful or spiritual
- Nurture professional relationships
- Seek help
For leaders of an organization:
- Communicate burnout as an organizational priority
- Demonstrate vulnerability by sharing personal experiences and lessons learned
- Collect and analyze data to understand the current state of burnout in the organization
- Provide support for the design and implementation of burnout solutions
- Communicate available resources to support employee well-being (e.g. EAP contact information)
- Conduct regular check-ins with team members to evaluate the current state of burnout
- Prioritize self-care to effectively support team members coping with stress
- Role model behaviors to reduce stigma and encourage solution uptake (e.g. shutting email/chat off outside of work hours)
Researchers developed a model called SOC: a combined use of Selection, Optimization and Compensation. These strategies, alone or in combination, were found to buffer the unfavorable effects of burnout. The SOC model was developed partly to explain how individuals might deal with diminishing resources that come with illness or physical deterioration – conditions that are especially applicable to aging workers. It consists of the following management strategies:
- Selection: This involves selecting the goals to pursue – acknowledging that you can’t accomplish everything – and then setting goal priorities. It may involve abandoning nonimportant or less important goals.
- Optimization: This is about optimizing and using goal-relevant means. For example, it may mean learning new procedures for performing certain tasks, or making other attempts at adaptation.
- Compensation: This involves using compensatory means to maintain goal attainment when previously employed resources are no longer available or blocked. It might entail using external aid.
Looking After Your Mental Health
PSHSA offers various resources regarding mental health. Below you will find training and other documents here to help:
How to Beat the Burnout Blues
How to Cope with Burnout
Cognitive Demands Analysis
Webinar: Beating the Burnout Blues
Webinar: Burnout in the Workplace: A Focus on Prevention
Blog: Taking Time to Disconnect
Guide: An Integrated Approach to Psychological Health & Safety in the Workplace
Psychological Health and Safety Program Summary
Career Burnout | camh
Find mental health support | Ontario Government
Burnout | Canadian Medical Association
The state of burnout for women in the workplace | McKinsey & Company