Understanding and Addressing Job Burnout: A Deep Dive into the Symptoms, Causes, and Solutions


Job Burnout

In recent years, the term “burnout” has become increasingly prevalent in conversations about mental health, particularly in the workplace. As the discussion around mental well-being gains momentum, it becomes crucial to explore what burnout truly entails and how society can respond to this growing concern.

Emily Mertz, a reporter for Global News, delves into the intricacies of job burnout, offering insights from experts and shedding light on its symptoms, causes, and potential solutions.

The Definition of Job Burnout:

Quentin Durand-Moreau, an assistant professor of occupational medicine at the University of Alberta, provides a comprehensive understanding of burnout. He defines it as a syndrome resulting from chronic workplace stress, manifesting in symptoms such as depleted energy, increased mental distance from one’s job, and feelings of reduced personal accomplishment.

Notably, Durand-Moreau emphasizes that while burnout is not a medical diagnosis, it often shares characteristics with depression, with 90% of burnout cases meeting the diagnostic criteria for depression.

Is Burnout on the Rise?

The question of whether burnout is becoming more prevalent or if it is gaining attention due to increased societal awareness is explored. Despite difficulties in pinpointing a definitive answer, Durand-Moreau acknowledges the heightened importance of mental health discussions, especially since the onset of the pandemic.

While historical data on this topic spans a century, the recent surge in interest underscores the urgency of addressing burnout.

Contributing Factors to Burnout:

Durand-Moreau identifies excessive work hours as a significant contributor to burnout, emphasizing the potential lethality of long work hours. Research from reputable organizations like the World Health Organization and International Labour Organization reveals alarming statistics, linking working more than 55 hours a week to increased risks of heart attacks and strokes.

Additionally, long work hours have been associated with heightened alcohol consumption, further compromising individuals’ health.

Remote Work and Burnout:

As remote work becomes increasingly prevalent, Durand-Moreau explores the connection between working from home and mental health. While studies on this topic yield conflicting results, the professor suggests that age, comfort with technology, and supervisory roles may influence how individuals experience remote work.

Factors such as living space, geography, and the potential for task interruptions also play a role in determining the impact of working from home on mental well-being.

Addressing Job Burnout: A Collective Responsibility:

Durand-Moreau emphasizes the role of employers in creating healthy work environments. He argues that organizations need to recognize psychosocial risks as integral issues requiring attention, rather than expecting employees to solely manage their well-being through exercise or mindfulness training. The professor stresses that workers’ occupational health should be core to a business, not merely an add-on.

Seeking Professional Support:

In concluding the exploration of burnout, Durand-Moreau underscores the importance of seeking professional medical help. He urges individuals experiencing symptoms of burnout to consult with their doctors, emphasizing that no job should inherently compromise mental health.

Burnout, if left unaddressed, can lead to serious consequences, and medical support is crucial for screening and diagnosing issues like depression, anxiety, or PTSD.

In times of crisis, resources are available, and emergency assistance can be accessed by calling 911. Organizations like the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention, Depression Hurts, and Kids Help Phone (1-800-668-6868) provide additional avenues for help and support for those dealing with mental health challenges.

As job burnout continues to impact individuals across various industries, the call for collective responsibility, awareness, and proactive measures becomes imperative for fostering healthier workplaces and prioritizing mental well-being.

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