Burnout to Breakdown – the growing employee mental health epidemic

From Burnout to Breakdown: Addressing the Growing Mental Health Epidemic Among Employees

In recent years, the mental health of employees worldwide has taken a significant hit. From rising stress levels to increasing cases of burnout and breakdown, the workplace has become a significant factor for mental well-being. In this article we will delve into the causes of this growing mental health epidemic, backed by statistics, and explore why this issue continues to worsen.

The Scope of the Problem

The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified poor mental health as one of the leading causes of absenteeism worldwide. According to the WHO, depression, anxiety and burnout cost the global economy an estimated $1 trillion per year in lost productivity. The Institute of Stress reports that 83% of workers suffer from work-related stress, with 25% saying their job is the number one stressor in their lives.

A survey conducted by a Mental Health charity found that 75% of employees have experienced burnout at some point in their careers, with 40% experiencing it during the pandemic. The same survey highlighted that 45% of employees feel emotionally drained from their work, and 25% feel their work environment negatively impacts their mental health.

Factors Contributing to the Decline

Several factors contribute to the deteriorating mental health of employees:

1. Increased Workload and Long Hours:

The pressure to meet deadlines and achieve goals has led to longer working hours and increased workload, leaving employees with little time to rest, recharge or switch off for a while.

2. Lack of Support:

Many employees feel unsupported by their employers when it comes to mental health. The stigma surrounding mental health issues often prevents employees from seeking help, fearing judgment, reduced opportunities or even job loss.

3. Remote Work Challenges:

While remote work has provided flexibility, it has also blurred the boundaries between work and personal life. The lack of physical separation between work and home can lead to a feeling of being “always on,” contributing to stress and burnout. There an increased expectation to perform and therefore prove levels of productivity outside of the workplace.

4. Economic Uncertainty:

The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced unprecedented economic uncertainty. Job insecurity and financial instability have exacerbated stress levels, contributing to anxiety, depression and burnout among employees. Fear around these subjects is playing a huge part in this worsening crisis.

5. Inadequate Mental Health Resources:

Many workplaces still lack adequate mental health resources and support systems. Without access to counselling services, mental health days, and wellness programs, employees struggle to cope with their mental health issues. For some reason mental health is still not seen as priority despite all the evidence pointing to the fact that it should be.

The Consequences

The impact of poor mental health in the workplace is wide spread. Employees experiencing mental health issues are more likely to have reduced productivity, increased absenteeism, and lower job satisfaction. Furthermore, untreated mental health problems can lead to severe physical health issues, including heart disease, diabetes, and a weakened immune system meaning they will be physically sick more often, compounding the mental health absenteeism.

Why Mental Health is Not Improving

Despite increased awareness, mental health in the workplace continues to decline. One primary reason is the persistent stigma surrounding mental health issues. Many employees fear that disclosing their struggles will lead to negative consequences, such as discrimination or job loss. This culture of fear prevents open conversations and the seeking of necessary help and leads to increased levels of burnout, stress, depression and anxiety

Additionally, while some companies have introduced mental health initiatives, these efforts are often superficial and not integrated into their culture. Mental health programs are sometimes seen as “tick box” activities rather than essential components of employee well-being.

Moreover, the fast-paced nature of modern work, driven by technological advancements and the constant demand for productivity, leaves little room for employees to take breaks. The culture of overwork and the glorification of “busyness” only serve to perpetuate the cycle of stress and burnout.

The great burnout continues

The deteriorating mental health of employees is a pressing issue that demands urgent attention. To address this growing epidemic, businesses must move beyond superficial initiatives and integrate mental health into their core values and overall culture. This involves creating a supportive work environment, providing access to mental health resources, and fostering a culture where employees feel safe to discuss their struggles. Only by taking these steps can we hope to reverse the trend from burnout to breakdown and promote a healthier, more resilient workforce.

Click the links below to find out more:

Mental Health in the Workplace Cost Calculator

The Workplace Mental Health Induction Workshop

The Workforce Mental Health Assessment

Mental Health First Aid Training

Mental Health Online Workshop Support Program

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