Mental Health Burnout in Mental Health Professionals is at a crisis

Google the phrase Mental Health Burnout and 2,910,000 results come up. Click on the “Scholarly link” and another 83,600 results show; suggesting a massive field of research attempting to understand Mental Health Burnout.

How scary is that? The professionals working to support clients with mental health concerns are increasingly developing symptoms of mental health burnout – this does not make sense – this is of significant concern!

Below are some research findings shared in one of the scholarly journals: The longer one works in the mental health field:

  • The less they liked working with patients
  • The less successful they felt with their clients
  • The less humanistic were their attitudes toward mental illness[1]

My personal experience in the university setting both as a student and employee, as well as in the clinical environment is that:

Those that have been in the field of mental health the longest are those that:

  • train
  • supervise
  • mentor
  • support

those that have been in the field for a shorter period of time. When you look at it like this it seems there is no hope for the mental health field, as those that are no longer humanistic towards mental illness, who don’t enjoy working with patients, and who don’t feel successful, are training the future mental health workers. This will guarantee an ongoing epidemic!

Could one hypothesise that the field of Mental Health may have come up with a way of ‘managing’ their own mental health in all aspects of their life, including their daily work?

Is this way of ‘managing’ leading to the enormous rise in burnout amongst Mental Health Professionals?

Could there be another way?

What if Mental Health workers were taught differently?

  1. To support, love, care and nurture themselves. Then and only then are they able to truly offer support to another
  2. That the only person we can change is ourselves … we can inspire and support when another chooses to “change themself” but only if we are living in a way that is truly supportive to ourselves first.
  3. It’s not about fixing a person, rather being there to support each person while they heal in their own time, on their agenda in the way that is best for them. The mentality of “I need to fix them” will guarantee failure and likely increase burnout.
  4. The client’s behaviours are often a result of undealt with hurts and these hurts are masking their amazing being. Understand and deal with the hurts and the amazing being will unveil!
  5. Sympathy, empathy, comparison and judgement are harming – harming to the client and harming to the worker – harming because they allow the client to bury their hurts and thus leave their hurts to fester in their body. When the therapist understands that the client's behaviours are a result of their own ‘buried and undealt with hurts’, they can offer an opportunity for the client to take responsibility and truly clear the hurts from the body. Understanding will support both client and mental health worker! Understanding that the behaviour can be a result of deep, unresolved hurts!
  6. The root to most of our problems/issues/hurts is rejection, lack of self-worth and self-loathing. That goes for all of us – workers, supporters and clients alike!
  7. If a client first feels you connect with them and meet them, not out of sympathy, but for the amazing being they naturally are, they will feel safe, supported and the rest will unfold from there.
  8. That what all human beings want most is to be loved and to love (clients and staff alike). We experience ‘hurt’ when this does not occur!
  9. That each person – clients and staff alike, all have a beautiful, amazing, loving and awesome essence that encapsulates the core of each being.

This essence is more important than any behaviour you may see from the client … connect with their essence and you connect with the person they naturally are!

I have been trained and worked in the field of mental health since the year 2000 and I know it was not until I had been taught these points that I was able to begin truly supporting clients without harming myself in the same process.

Prior to this awareness I was a prime candidate for burnout! These nine points have made such a difference to the way I work and I now feel:

  • less stressed
  • less burnt out
  • I am open to my clients
  • have more energy
  • enjoy going to work each day.

I can say the longer I have worked in the mental health field:

  • The more I like working with patients.
  • The more successful I feel with them.
  • The more humanistic and understanding my attitudes are toward mental illness.

The bullet points above and many more points have been taught to me by courses I have attended by Universal Medicine ... teachings that would truly support all those in the field of mental health.

There is another way

Imagine if we were all taught this in our initial trainings and as professionals we lived by these principles? Mental Health Burnout by Mental Health professionals would be non-existent.


  • [1]

    Reference: D Prosser, S Johnson, E Kuipers, G Szmukler… - The British Journal of Psychiatry, 1996 – RCP; Mental health," burnout' and job satisfaction among hospital and community-based mental health staff; American Psychological Association.

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HurtMental healthOverwhelmSelf-loveUniversal MedicineBurnout

  • By Tanya Curtis, Author, Behavioural Specialist, Assoc Dip Ed. (Child Care), BHlthSci. (BehMgt), MBehMgt, MCoun

    Tanya is dedicated to supporting people to understand and change their unwanted behaviours and live their full potential. Tanya’s deep care and love of people shines through all of the initiative she dedicates herself to.