Research Study states that 21-67% of mental health professionals are experiencing burnout (Morse et al., 2012)
Mental Health Professionals are those engaging in service profession where they prioritise clients’ needs and benefits more than theirs. Mental Health Professionals use themselves as a tool in their profession and experience, so the component of burnout is a common phenomenon among Mental Health Professionals as the practice require ongoing and intense level of personal and emotional contact. In general term, burnout is a condition experienced due to prolonged exposure to job related stressors where an individual experience emotional, physical and psychological stress leading to behavioural and health implications.
What makes some MHP’s experience more burnout than the others?
According to Research few common factors that tend to increase the likelihood of burnout among Mental Health Professionals are:
- Limited Level of education and training which in turn leaves the MHP’s without adequate resources to deal effectively with the client’s concern. Gap between the knowledge or the training that they have gained and the rapidly changing needs in the profession.
- Self- blame when client don’t make a progress.
- Emotions individual holds towards their work, overcommitment towards one’s job failing to pay attention to one’s personal needs.
- Young MHP’s with minimal years of experience are prone to burnout than Older MHP’s with more experience as the Young MHP’s are unaware of how to deal effectively with job stressors.
- Professionals who are single are more likely to experience burnout than married professionals due to insufficient social support.
External conditions: Long-hours of work, problematic work environment with unqualified and underqualified assistants, hostile patient attitude and lack of patient satisfaction. Low social support from colleagues as well as family members. In addition to these increasingly growing complex administrative and legal frameworks.
Working Condition and Job Dissatisfaction: MHP’s working in poor conditions where there is crowded inpatient wards, high work demands, poorly defined role of the consultants, responsibility without authority and conflict between responsibility towards authority and towards their client. Negative attitude towards work and clients, lack of stimulation from work (career growth) leading to job dissatisfaction.
Therapeutic Relationship: Unlike other profession therapist-client are in direct relationship with one another so the therapeutic relationship in itself evoke emotions such as the need to unconditionally help/ support the clients and a sense of failures and frustration when the client’s condition become worse (relapse) or when they don’t respond to treatment.
Are you experiencing burnout?
Few warning signs indicating if you are experiencing burnout:
- Forcing yourself to work everyday
- Feeling exhausted and a chronic feeling of lack of energy
- Lack of enthusiasm and motivation to go to work or at workplace
- Constant feeling of disengagement from what you are doing
- Depletion of own emotional, mental resources
- Feeling tired/ fatigue or sick at the end of the day/ during work
- Difficulty in concentrating or paying attention
- Increased irritability or anger
- Difficulty in maintaining work-life balance
- Negative attitude towards colleagues and clients
How to deal effectively with burnout?
Experiencing burnout is a common phenomenon in Human Service Profession as Mental Health Professionals use themselves as a tool in the process. The following are few steps which could be employed in order to deal effectively with burnout.
Set the boundaries at place: Following personal, professional and ethical boundaries gives less chances for over-involvement with clients and keeping oneself under check from not violating the norms.
Self-time: Taking some ‘me or self-time’ at the end of each day or after each session helps in the process of reflection, giving the individual an idea about the overall picture (what is that they have done right, where did they go wrong), thus by helping them to get an idea as how to progress further.
Self-Care: Taking care of self is not a luxury but a priority for a MHP, as MHP’s use themselves as a tool in the process of human service. Following a regular eating pattern, taking small breaks in between, engaging in a physical or mental activity of choice and adhering to a sleep schedule is of greater significance.
Leisure activity or hobby: Finding time every day for few minutes to engage in a leisure activity or hobby of your choice like practising yoga, meditation, or relaxation helps in refreshing yourself and helps in reducing the amount of tension or stress experienced.
- Expert Supervision: Supervision by an expert in the field provides a reflection of your attitude towards work and helps in re-clarifying your purpose and sense of direction when you have lost your purpose or sense of direction.
- Peer- supervision: Talking to fellow colleagues/ peers gives you an objective feedback on daily basis regarding your work and your attitude towards your work. Peer-supervision helps you where an individual provides you with their support (emotional/ social) and help you get back on track.
Attending events/ seminars: As professionals experience burnout because of gap between the knowledge or the training and what they practice in field along with the growing diversity of the field, this helps in keeping oneself updated about the current happening of the field and provides an individual an understanding about the area that they are lagging and read more on those lines to keep them updated.
Personal therapy: For budding professionals or young professionals, personal therapy session helps in providing an insight and also facilitates in the process of dealing effectively with stressors by teaching individuals effective coping skills/ mechanisms.
Vacation: Taking time out from your regular schedule and going out helps you to refresh yourself and helps in the process of rejuvenation.
A life outside: Creating a life outside work is crucial (not taking work home or pondering about a case during your personal time), getting a life may include hanging out with friends, joining groups, extending your social group, meeting with your loved ones, and doing something that engages you emotionally and spiritually.
Take a Pause: When you feel, the work consumes most of your time in a day and is affecting other domains of your life like social, intrapersonal, emotional, spiritual and physical aspect. You should realise that it is a sign, you need to slow down and take a pause!