World Mental Health Day: "Burn-out" to be officially recognised from 2020

Since our blog article last year "Mental Wellbeing Tips for business owners and employers" we have continued to see a steady stream of news articles and discussions about mental health in the workplace.

On the 28th May this year, the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced that ‘Burn-out’ would be officially identified in the International Classification of Diseases starting from January 2020. According to the WHO:

“Burn-out is a syndrome conceptualised as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.
"Burn-out is characterized by three different dimensions: 1. Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; 2. Increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one's job; 3. Reduced professional efficacy.
"Burn-out refers specifically to phenomena in the occupational context and should not be applied to describe experiences in other areas of life.”

This announcement clearly indicates that we are now looking into much more depth about mental health, what causes it, how it affects us, and will inevitably prompt more investigation into how it can be managed.

Why our mental health is so important

If a classification of a mental health issue doesn’t convince you about the importance of understanding the difficulties that millions of people face each day as a result of poor mental health, then consider some of these eye-opening statistics...

  • World Mental Health Day (10th October) is a day for us to unite in our efforts to improve the mental health of people around the world - the theme selected for this year’s Day is suicide prevention;

  • Every 40 seconds, someone loses their life to suicide;

  • If you are an employer or a manager, take 40 seconds to formulate a positive message of support to your employees about resources available to them in the workplace or local community in times of mental distress.

Click the image to download a poster with suicide prevention advice from the WHO.

According to a recent Mental Health in the Workplace Report, it has been revealed that more than four in ten (42.4%) employees have suffered stress. When asked what the underlying causes of mental health issues in the workplace, the top three reported reasons were:

  1. Increased workload (38.2%)

  2. Financial concerns (17.9%)

  3. Workplace bullying (9.5%)

As a manager, you may have employees who have experience mental health difficulties.

As soon as you notice that an employee is having difficulties, talk to them – early action can prevent them becoming more unwell. If the person does not want to speak to you, suggest they speak to someone else, like someone from occupational health of their GP.

Managers should concentrate on making reasonable adjustments at work, rather than understanding the diagnosis. If an employee goes off sick, lack of contact or involvement from their manager may mean they feel isolated, forgotten or unable to return. You can reduce the risk of them not returning to work by:

  • Keeping them informed about what is going on, including social events;

  • Reassuring them early on and throughout their absence.

Mental ill health costs employers in the UK £30 billion every year

This is through lost production, recruitment and absence. Promoting positive mental health in your workplace can therefore be hugely beneficial. Staff with good mental health are more likely to perform well, have good attendance levels and be engaged in their work. Additionally, taking steps to better support the mental health of staff can help to reduce the severity, duration and quantity of mental ill health in the workplace.

Research from the mental health charity Mind confirms that a culture of fear and silence around mental health is costly to employers:

  • More than one in five (21%) agreed that they had called in sick to avoid work when asked how workplace stress had affected them

  • 14% agreed that they had resigned and 42% had considered resigning when asked how workplace stress had affected them

  • 30% of staff disagreed with the statement ‘I would feel able to talk openly with my line manager if I was feeling stressed’

  • 56% of employers said they would like to do more to improve staff wellbeing but don't feel they have the right training or guidance

Tips for looking after your mental health at work

We can all take steps to improve our own mental health, try looking through the 10 steps below to improve mental health:

  1. Talk about your feelings

  2. Keep active

  3. Eat well

  4. Drink sensibly

  5. Keep in touch

  6. Ask for help

  7. Take a break

  8. Do something about it

  9. Accept who you are

  10. Care for others

Looking for more resources on mental health at work? We regularly add blogs and articles on this topic - find the latest ones here.

Would you and your team benefit from specific training to help manage mental health at work? Email us at to find out more.

For the latest tips and advice on all HR related topics, join our mailing list for our monthly update!

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