Workplace burnout: taking a summer holiday is not enough

With one in four Australian experiencing high levels of anxiety symptoms, mental stress claims are now the most expensive type of workers’ compensation claim.  A 2014 Price Waterhouse Cooper study reported that mental health conditions cost Australian employers at least $10.9 billion a year.

Wellness tourism boom

Wellness Tourism is defined as travel associated with the pursuit of maintaining or enhancing one’s personal wellbeing.   With skyrocketing cases of workplace stress and burnout, it is not surprising that wellness tourism is a thriving industry, currently growing globally at double the rate of general tourism.  The Global Wellness Instituteestimates wellness tourism was a $639 billion global market in 2017.The growth rate of wellness tourism in Australia for 2015-2017 was 8.3% with around 10 million wellness trips taken in Australia in 2017.  This ranks Australia in fourteenth place in the world for wellness tourism.However, psychologists are encouraging people to think beyond the health spa this summer if they are serious about addressing workplace burnout, mental health and substance misuse issues.The Buttery Private, located in Northern NSW, is an example of a facility offering evidence-based wellbeing treatment program, treating a growing number of people with serious workplace burnout.  However, residential program manager, Trent Rees, encourages people to distinguish between end-of-year stress and serious and debilitating burnout and look beyond the health spa.   Mr Rees said both employers and employees need to start taking workplace burnout seriously. “Generally, the longer the symptoms are left before treatment, the more prolonged the recovery period is.

Beyond the health spa

“I think it is encouraging that Australians are addressing wellness during their well-earned holidays. This can help prevent more serious mental health conditions from developing. However, people experiencing debilitating burnout need more than a holiday,” Mr Rees said.

“People suffering burnout are in a state of physical, mental and emotional exhaustion because of their exposure to prolonged stress. They feel overwhelmed and drained emotionally and can no longer meet the unrelenting demands they face. The fact is, burnout is a serious condition which can’t be addressed just by a holiday,” he said.

The Buttery Private, which is a social enterprise that utilises profits to help support the long established charity-run drug and alcohol treatment organisation, The Buttery.Participants at The Buttery Private take part in an intense four-week psychologically-focused program.   Programs incorporate the principles of Compassion Focused Therapy, Schema Therapy, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, Exposure Therapy and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.Mr Rees says “We’re seeing more and more people come to us with severe burnout caused by checking emails and taking phone calls compulsively. These days, staff are often expected to be ‘on’ 24/7.

“We are also seeing an increase in people with ‘behavioural addictions’ like social media, gaming and pornography addiction. Like alcohol and drug addiction, the underlying causes of these addictions need to be addressed with intensive therapy.  A ‘digital detox’ holiday won’t necessarily act as a circuit-breaker for sustainable wellbeing,” he said.

A depressed, anxious and stressed nation

Findings of the Australian Psychological Society’s Stress and Wellbeing in Australia Survey 2015, have revealed that 26 per cent of Australians report having moderate to extremely severe depression symptoms.  In addition, 26 per cent of Australians also report above normal levels of anxiety symptoms.

These figures are further complicated in those reporting extremely severe levels of anxiety symptoms with 66 per cent of this population drinking alcohol, 54 per cent gambling, 47 per cent taking recreational drugs and 45 per cent smoking cigarettes in an attempt to alleviate stress.

“The reality is, anxiety, depression, behavioural and substance addiction, and serious workplace burnout, require treatment that goes beyond what the average health spa can offer,” Mr Rees said.

For more information about the Buttery Private visit  www.butteryprivate.org.au or call: 1300 851 695.

January 2, 2019


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