Burnout is one of the most common challenges that mental health workers face. Unfortunately, the world already has a shortage of qualified mental health professionals, and losing existing therapists to burnout is less than ideal. Burnout is when a person experiences prolonged stress due to work, poor boundaries, and a lack of healthy coping methods.
The effects of burnout can range from mild to serious. Symptoms of mild burnout include a lack of concentration, being easily distracted, and experiencing great relief when not at work. Serious symptoms include insomnia, severe fatigue, high blood pressure, and physical illness.
Thankfully, there are several effective steps that mental health workers can take to address this condition. These methods may not eliminate work stress, but they can help control it to the extent that it no longer has a debilitating effect on their life.
#1. Insist on Work-Life Balance
Too often, mental health workers take it upon themselves to be responsible for the well-being of their clients. Yes, this is a part of their role, but some people take things a bit too far.
They start feeling responsible for events that are not under their control. They find it difficult to say no to excess work because “You can’t help too many people, right?”
Identifying the point where you can no longer be an effective helper is important. You won’t be helping anyone if you are strung out and stretched thin. If you are in charge of your own practice, start setting limits on the number of clients you take and the number of your working hours.
If you work under someone or in an institution, consider having an honest conversation with your supervisor or senior. Explain to them that you are at risk of burnout and respectfully but firmly make it clear that they need to reduce or adjust your workload.
#2. Take Advantage of Technology
Feeling overwhelmed with multiple tasks is one of the main factors that cause burnout. Therapists often have to keep track of several pieces of information. Ensuring client details, assessments, and logs are all updated, kept organized, and ready for immediate review can be very taxing.
It makes little sense not to make use of technology to create some breathing space. A lot of therapists use behavioral health software to take care of the simple but time-consuming process of documentation and logging information.
With such Electronic Health Records software (EHR), therapists no longer need to spend hours on manual documentation and can instead focus on delivering high-quality care to their clients. The automation of tasks, such as appointment scheduling and billing, can reduce the administrative workload on therapists, freeing up time for more meaningful client interactions.
This can positively impact job satisfaction and reduce burnout as therapists can now focus on what they do best: helping people. Often, having to deal with work that isn’t directly related to actual therapy causes significant stress and tension.
EHRs help therapists tremendously, and they also reduce the risk of errors associated with manual documentation. Client information is also stored in a centralized repository making it easier for therapists to access and update client information as and when needed.
#3. Take Periodic Vacations and Breaks
One of the best ways to deal with burnout involves taking breaks away from your work environment. Regular time away from the stressful situation you face can help you refresh, recharge, and experience a better work-life balance.
Periodic vacations help therapists focus on their own needs and engage in self-care activities that can help prevent burnout from occurring in the first place.
People often find that once they take a break, they are able to return to work with renewed energy and a fresh perspective. This often leads to improved job satisfaction and overall well-being, which can ultimately benefit both the therapist and their clients.
It is truly sad when those responsible for the mental well-being of others are unable to handle the strain of their roles. Mental health can be an emotionally draining field, and not addressing the burnout that it often brings is a recipe for disaster.
Burnout has destroyed the careers of people, not just in mental health but in almost every high-stress field. By recognizing its signs and symptoms and taking immediate action, therapists can save themselves from the often severe consequences that this condition brings.
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