According to the World Health Organisation, Burnout is a syndrome, not an illness, conceptualised as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterised 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.
Burnout refers specifically to phenomena in the occupational context and should not be applied to describe experiences in other areas of life.” (WHO, 2020)
Burnout is an increasing problem facing members of the military, emergency services and health sector. There is ample academic research evidencing the significant personal, organisational and economic cost of burnout. Burnout manifests itself organisationally in lowering organisational effectiveness, emergency response times, increases in staff sickness, loss of organisational resilience and the consequential risk to public safety and security. Aside from decreasing the effectiveness of those organisations, burnout also increases the risk of staff becoming vulnerable to significant mental health disorders. As the public rely on these services for their safety and security it is therefore to the public benefit that these critical services are able to function at their optimum level, and staff are protected from such mental trauma.