WHO Officially Recognizes Workplace Burnout as Occupational Phenomenon

The World Health Organization has officially classified workplace burnout as an occupational phenomenon.

In its latest revision of the International Classification of Diseases, the World Health Organization has officially classified workplace burnout as an occupational phenomenon. The organization had previously defined the phenomenon as a “state of vital exhaustion,” and this is the first time it’s being linked as a work hazard.

“Burnout is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed,” the WHO said. “Burnout refers specifically to phenomena in the occupational context and should not be applied to describe experiences in other areas of life.”

Burnout, according to WHO, is classified by three factors:

  • 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.

WHO does not call burnout a medical condition; however, it is included as a cause for which people might contact health services for a reason other than an illness or health condition.

The WHO said it plans to develop “evidence-based” guidelines for workplace mental health. Its member nations are set to implement the revisions to the International Classification of Diseases by 2022.

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    May 2021

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