Developed by Seabourne Consulting, experts in Burnout and Mental Health in the Workplace

Burnout and Mental Health in the Workplace


Once associated specifically with unresolvable job-related stress, burnout quickly made itself a household name after 2020. Burnout is “a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress”. Many of us are no strangers to times of stress and anxiety, but the pandemic brought with it overwhelming, unpredictable events along with the disruption of work, education, healthcare, the economy, relationships, and many other aspects of life. In a matter of weeks, the unemployment rate rivaled that of the Great Depression and many faced a multitude of insecurities in their normal lives. Due to the upheaval of normal life, burnout left many feeling like they were burning a candle at both ends. 




Frontline workers, essential workers, and caregivers that have worked throughout the pandemic and have suffered from resource and staff shortages were identified to be at a higher risk for burnout. Professions such as these face a unique risk for a different kind of burnout: compassion fatigue. Compassion fatigue can include, “emotional, physical, and spiritual distress in those providing care to another” especially when those in their care are experiencing significant emotional or physical pain and suffering. The major difference between compassion fatigue and types of burnout seen in other occupations is the presence or continued exposure of trauma.

Access to mental health care was a concern before the pandemic. After the pandemic, new and existing barriers to accessing these services were exacerbated. The mental health care system is (and was) failing to meet people’s needs. The impact of the pandemic placed more pressure on an already strained mental health care system. Due to shortages in areas, such as, mental health professionals, psychiatric hospital beds, a lack of in-network options, inability to afford mental health care or healthcare coverage, or denial of insurance coverage, it is time to start looking for more upstream approaches to dealing with mental health. Since individuals spend about one-third of their lives at work, we can start by focusing on transforming the workplace. 

Nationwide, about 1 in 5 adults are living with a mental health condition, 91 percent of employees report that job-related stress has a negative impact on the work, and 42 percent of employees left a job due to burnout. Many employees don’t feel comfortable disclosing mental health conditions due to reasons like fear of losing a job or promotion, worry about judgement or stigma, being misunderstood, not wanting to be seen as receiving special treatment, or harassment or bullying from others. Mental health conditions have a significant effect on workplace productivity; 27 workdays are lost each year due to sick days and cost about $105 billion per year in lost productivity in the workplace.


Employers have an opportunity to openly address mental health in the workplace that can go beyond mental health services. Some promising practices that employers are adopting to reduce or prevent burnout are included in the resource cards below. 

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A People’s Guide to Healing the Nation
Resource - Guide/handbook
Brought to you by Well Being Trust
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Job Burnout and Engagement Among Teachers
Resource - Journal Article
Brought to you by Nofer Institute of Occupational Medicine
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Mental Health First Aid at Work
Tool - Workshop/training
Brought to you by National Council for Mental Wellbeing
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Supporting Minority Mental Health in the Workplace
Story - Written
Brought to you by National Council for Mental Wellbeing
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How to Create an Employee Resource Group for Mental Health
Tool - Toolkit/toolbox
Brought to you by Mind Share Partners
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How to Form a Mental Health Employee Resource Group
Story - Written
Brought to you by HBR
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Dealing with Staff Absences Toolkit
Tool - Toolkit/toolbox
Brought to you by Mental Health at Work
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Dialogue as a Process for Community Change
Story - Original
Brought to you by Community Commons
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Employee Burnout: The Biggest Myth
Resource - Blog
Brought to you by Gallup
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Burnout is Now an Official Medical Condition
Resource - Blog
Brought to you by AIS
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Mental Health at Work — Creating a Stigma-Free Culture
Story - Written
Brought to you by Kaiser Permanente

Written by: Danielle Castilleja, MPH. Danielle is a second-year MPH Community and Behavioral Health student at the Colorado School of Public Health. She recently completed an internship with Community Commons.

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