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Causes and Prevention of Burnout in Human Services Professionals

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Causes and Prevention of Burnout in Human Services Staff

Elizabeth Chavez

BSHS/461 - Building Community in Organization

April 01, 2010

Instructor: Adela Escudero

Causes and Prevention of Burnout in Human Services Staff

Nowadays, in the current work environments, the demands have increased to reach the goals of any organization. The demands become a burden on the employees as they fail to adapt to the changes that are implemented to reach the goals. In this high stressed working environment, employees can feel burnout. Human services staff members feel the pinch of the demands as they consistently work with the public. For they are not only trying to meet the agency's demands, they are also trying to meet the needs of the public. The following analysis will explore the definition, the root causes of burnout and offer prevention techniques. On a personal level, I will analyze how I respond and react to stress, how I can reduce the effects of burnout, and how can assist my co-workers with burnout.


Burnout can be defined as a physical or emotional exhaustion that results from prolonged periods of frustrations or stress. Burnout has been defined in many ways, but it encompasses three dimensions: reduced personal accomplishment, depersonalization, and emotional exhaustion (Morse, Salyers, Rollins, Monroe-devita, & Pfahler, 2012).

Factors that Cause Burnout

Staff burnout has become a major problem that need to be addressed. It has been of concern in the mental health field. Several researchers have considered burnout to be a job-related stress conditions known as "work-related mental health impairment" (Morse, et. al., 2012). It has become a problem because of its prevalence and undesirable outcomes for consumers, organizations, and staff (Morse, et. al., 2012). Among the health services staff, burnout has been associated with the negative conditions affecting several types of employees, and the individuals they serve. Other factors to consider as the cause of burnout include organizational/environmental factors, and/or unresolved career/personal factors (Suran & Sheridan, 1985).

Methods to Prevent Burnout

A human services employee will feel frustrated and frazzled with the heavy load of work from time to time. Most burnout programs and techniques have focused on changing and reducing work stress, and improving the employees' social support and coping skills. Different techniques have been utilized from the use of recreational music to a humanistic therapy with spiritual emphasis (Morse, et. al., 2012). Other interventions include cognitive restructuring, educational information, social skills training, progressive muscle relaxation, skills to enhance social support, and communication skills training (Morse, et. al., 2012).

Also, to prevent burnout, staff members need to identify when their passion for work turn into a burden; or to honestly assess their situations and develop some type of solution.




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