Written by Dr. Field
Burn-out is now recognized as a disease state by the World Health Organization (WHO). On May 28, 2019 the WHO released a statement detailing how Burn-out will be included in the ICD-11. The ICD-11 is the 11th revision of the International Classification of Diseases and guides health care practitioners in classifying disease states.
According to the WHO statement, burn-out is defined as follows:
“Burn-out is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three dimensions:
feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion;
increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one's job; and
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.”
The recognition of Burn-out as a disease state by the WHO is very important. Every day I see people dealing with Burn-out as a result of work place stress, though they don’t often accept this assessment or even recognize that they are stressed out. We live in a society where we feel like we have to be on the go all of the time, valuing productivity so very much.
Having a disease classification helps to make things concrete and put things into perspective. It helps people understand and recognize that they are sick and that changes are necessary to address the disease state.
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World Health Organization visited June 3, 2019. https://www.who.int/mental_health/evidence/burn-out/en/