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How To Manage Job Burnout Amongst Mental Health Therapists

In 2019, the World Health Organization announced occupational burnout in the 11th revision of the International Classification of Diseases. And while it has not been classified as a medical condition, it is still considered one of the “factors influencing health status or contact with health services,” including mental health services. Statistics indicate that occupational burnout is one of the leading causes of depression among Singapore professionals, with one in eight people reporting workplace stress. Additionally, a study that was conducted in 2015 using a cross-sectional survey of 220 Singaporean mental health professional revealed that “professionals below the age of 25, those with less than five years of experience, and those with the lowest annual income, reported the highest levels of stress and burnout.”

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The Signs of Job Burnout

According to the World Health Organization, occupational burnout is defined as being “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” The three factors of burnout include:

  • Depletion of energy or complete exhaustion

  • Feelings of mental distance in your job role along with negative emotions related to your job as a whole

  • Reduction in professional efficacy

If left unnoticed or untreated, the persistence of chronic stress in your life can result in severe health conditions.

How to Begin Taking Care of Yourself

Above all else, and although it may be challenging to take a step back, it is essential to indicate that before taking care of others’ health, you must look after your own to reduce the likeliness of developing job burnout. Here is how you can begin taking care of yourself as a mental health therapist.

1.    Consider taking a couple of days off for yourself

Although it may be challenging to take time off from your practice, aim to take advantage of national holidays and spend a couple of days recharging, spending time in nature, and doing things you enjoy doing. Whether it’s taking the time to journal and reflect on your emotions, going to the spa for a day of relaxation, or spending time with the ones, you love most. The idea of taking time for yourself allows you to re-connect with how you are feeling physically and emotionally and addressing them head-on. By the time you get back to your practice, you should be able to feel well-rested and able to work confidently again. One the other hand, ask your colleagues to cover one or two of your work days, if possible, to do the same.

2.    Consider going to group therapy

Reaching out for help from other licensed mental health specialists is another highly encouraging solution amongst professionals. You yourselves understand the importance of working through your stress and other mental health illnesses more than anyone. By seeking help from other professionals in your field, you are actively taking charge of how you feel and choosing to focus on your well-being.

3.    Consider running your business in a shared space

Running your mental health practice can be challenging –especially with a lack of funding from the government. With rent, electricity, and other office space bills, it is common for therapists to take home an adequate wage once everything is said and done at the end of each month. This financial uncertainty can pose as a further external trigger of stress in your everyday life.

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On the other side of the spectrum, younger mental health professionals within Singapore, as mentioned above, report their workplace stress as being due to not making enough income when working under someone else’s practice. Additionally, they may feel the need to work longer hours to make up for the gap in income levels in order to live a comfortable lifestyle, which can also contribute to the accumulation of workplace stress.


However, with a shared space, you are able to rent out safe and comfortable rooms to conduct your therapy sessions with your clients without bearing the costs of renting out an entire building. This will not only aid you in taking home more of your hard-earned money, but it will also provide you with the ability to create more balance between your home and work life. Additionally, utilizing a shared space for your professional practice also aids in decreasing feelings of isolation and loneliness by providing you with a neutral environment where you are able to collaborate with other mental health care professionals in your area.

If you would like to find out more information about shared spaces and how they can help lower the stress of running and maintaining a private practice, please visit A Space Between for more details.