Across all age-groups we often see patients presenting with symptoms of stress that have been triggered by issues in the workplace.

Typically, these symptoms include insomnia, exhaustion, irritability and reduced professional performance.

Last week the United Nations agency listed burnout in the latest International Classification of disease (ICD-11), defining it as a “syndrome conceptualised as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been managed successfully”. The UN stopped short of classifying burnout as a medical condition but left open the possibility of listing burnout as a disease in the future.

Experts at the Black Dog Institute have said that anecdotally the prevalence of burnout appears to be increasing in most Western regions.

Certainly, in our general practice we see the prevalence is highly dependent on the nature of the job and the extent to which it places pressure on the employee. Industries that are particularly prone to workplace stress include police and emergency services, healthcare services and small business.

Typically the issues centre around the expectation of working long hours and when there is a mismatch between the requirements of the role and the capabilities and resources and support available to the employee. Combine this with extended commutes and resistance from management to provide relief from the intense pace, and it’s entirely understandable that burnout could occur.

Our first approach is to suggest some time off from work but at an executive level this is often difficult, even though stressed-out corporate leaders are clearly not going to be performing at their peak.

Everyone is different, with different roles at home and at work and there is no single best approach to staying mentally well, but there are several things you can do to improve your wellbeing.

Strategies for managing your work role

  • limit your work hours
  • schedule meetings during core work hours
  • take regular breaks
  • try not to take work home
  • take your holiday leave
  • set realistic deadlines and deliver on time
  • it’s ok to say no
  • have a technology “switch off”
  • flexible working arrangements

Make sure you are clear on your rights and responsibilities related to your job. Both employers and employees have rights and responsibilities under discrimination, privacy, and work health and safety legislation. Understanding them can help you keep the workplace safe for yourself and others through knowing what your obligations are and being able to spot if your rights have been breached in any way.

If you’re experiencing any issues in your workplace or about your role, make a time to speak with your manager to alert them to your situation. Don’t allow stress symptoms to get to an unmanageable level before seeking help. If you are concerned that your message is not being heard, this is the time to see your GP for advice on handling work-place stress before burnout occurs.


World health Organisation

Beyond Blue

Heads Up