Mother calls for more support for burnout as survey finds more than half of workers are suffering

A mother who became so physically and mentally exhausted due to work her health began to suffer, has joined calls for more to be done to tackle burnout.

Angela Oatley was diagnosed with chronic stress and burnout after becoming unable to balance her work and family commitments.

The mother-of-two from Hyde, Greater Manchester, found herself opening emails as late as 10pm, before working some more.

She began to have stomach issues but blamed feeling ill, and pain when she ate, on other things.

She said: "I would have ten hours sleep and I would wake up and feel like I hadn't had any, my legs were heavy I was heavy.

"You know people say you are carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders and it felt like that."

Angela Oately experienced burnout while working as a teacher and looking after her two young children

There are now calls for more to be done to tackle burnout after new figures show more than half of workers are suffering.

The study by THE OUT revealed over 70% of people have experienced burnout in the past 12 months as the lines between home and work became blurred.While some employers are making burnout and mental health more of a priority, research shows the condition is a lot more complex than just a heavy workload.

In 2019 the World Health Organisation recognised burnout as an 'occupational phenomenon'.

It characterises it in three ways:

  • feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion

  • increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one's job

  • reduced professional efficacy.

A recent survey found more than half of workers felt burnt out, while more than two thirds say things got worse throughout the pandemic.

Angela says counselling played a key part in her recovery. She has recently trained to be a life coach, and wants to use her experience to help others find a better life balance.

Social worker Debbie Parker realised she needed help when she started losing her hair and having heart palpitations.

She was off work for two months with work-related stress and anxiety.

Debbie Parker went to see her GP after she started experiencing hair loss and heart palpitations

GP Dr Aman Amir says he has seen a steep rise in workplace burnout.

He said: "If someone is feeling distant and remote from work and having very negative feelings about their work whether that's environment or relationships at work.

"If somebody is having or noticing far less productivity around the workplace, coupled with the fatigue and the brain drain around the work environment, then that is what we describe as burnout."

Dr Aman Amir says there's been a steep rise in people experiencing workplace burnout

Debbie received support from her employer- the Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust - through a health and wellbeing programme.

The S.C.A.R.F (Support, Care, Assist, Recognise, Family) campaign is the wrap-around forever strategic programme that describes the Trust's commitment of support to look after the physical, psychological, environmental, financial, and spiritual wellbeing of all staffworking within the organisation.

Amy Goodale from the Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust

What is Burnout?

Burnout is a state of emotional, physical and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress.

It occurs when an individual feels overwhelmed, emotionally drained and unable to meet constant demands.

The American psychologist Herbert Freudenberger coined the term ‘burnout’ in the 1970s.

He used it to describe the consequences of severe and high ideals in ‘helping’ professions.

Burnout, however, can affect anyone, from stressed-out careerists and celebrities to overworked employees and homemakers.

Ross McWilliam  is a coach in positive mental health based in Preston. He spoke to presenter Lucy Meacock about the signs of burnout.

How to deal with Burnout

  • Take control

  • Don't work consistently long hours

  • Engage in activities unrelated to work

  • Connect socially with friends and people you like

  • Have some "me time"

  • Avoid unhealthy behaviours and negative coping mechanisms

  • Help other people

  • Be positive

If you would like to know more, here are some helpful links: