Mental Health and Burnout
Mental health is vital to the well-being of all patients, and the readiness of our military forces. Burnout can be especially prominent.
What is burnout?
Burnout refers to exhaustion, emotional distance, feelings of negativity, or other psychological symptoms resulting from chronic, unmanaged workplace stress.
People can experience burnout in different ways. Some lose motivation for a job for which they had passion. Some may lash out at colleagues or family members, or experience depression or anxiety. A common effect of burnout in the medical field is compassion fatigue. Others are overly self-critical.
Risks and signs of burnout
Signs of burnout include anxiety, irritability, disengagement, low mood, and exhaustion.
Isolation and overwork are common risks for burnout. Service members are highly motivated and driven to complete their mission. It is hard to pull back – even temporarily – when we demand so much of ourselves, but we must.
How to battle burnout
Self-care is critical to preventing and fighting burnout. Self-care can help to lessen the effects of workplace stress. It can also protect against burnout and compassion fatigue.
Take short breaks during your work day when possible. Perform activities to increase your happiness and peace of mind. They can be as simple as taking a walk, reading a book, or practicing yoga or mindfulness exercises.
Other helpful practices to reduce burnout include:
- Focusing on physical wellness
- Maintaining and cultivating social relationships
- Establishing work-life balance
- Setting emotional boundaries
- Seeking professional help. Talk to you primary care provider about effective, evidence-based treatments that can help battle burnout.
- This includes telemental health to support treatment and self-care for service members and their families.
In This Together
A sense of community and meaningful connection are strong protection against burnout. Reaching out for help is a sign of strength.
If you recognize signs of burnout in yourself, colleagues, friends or family, speak up and let them know it is ok to take a break.
Leaders can play an important role battling burnout. Cultivate a positive work environment that lifts everyone up. Kudos, praise, caring gestures, and recognition go a long way. Be supportive of team members if they report burnout.
Additional Resources for Mental Health:
- Defense Health Agency Psychological Health Center of Excellence
- Health.mil Psychological Fitness page
- TRICARE.mil Mental Health Services page
- PHCOE Clinicians Corner blog on Provider Resilience During Pandemic
- PHCOE Clinicians Corner blog on Connecting to Psychological Health Care Resources During COVID-19
- DOD inTransition page
Last Updated 9/11/2023