Provider burnout is increasing across the United States, rising about 20 percent between 2011 and 2014, researchers from Mayo Clinic Proceedings found. This creates health hazards for clinicians and their patients.
What is “Burnout”?
Generally, burnout is defined as feelings of physical and emotional exhaustion, increased cynicism, lower motivation, and even feelings of pointlessness or ineffectiveness.
What causes burnout?
Many factors contribute to burnout. Some of the most common include:
Lack of belonging at work
In several studies of mental health providers, researchers found that individuals who have higher perceptions of support and a greater sense of belonging in the workplace are less likely to experience burnout. Younger providers may be at greater risk of burnout, possibly because they have had less time to cultivate a sense of belonging or to develop skills to cope with patient trauma.
High expectations and stigma
Society expects therapists to put their patients’ needs before their own and have all the answers. They may also be tempted to blame themselves for feelings of burnout, thinking they should have been able to prevent it.
Staffing shortages, company consolidations, and the ongoing opioid crisis have increased the workload for counselors. This also hinders their ability to achieve work-life balance, increasing stress and career dissatisfaction.
Lack of leadership support
Mergers and acquisitions and changing leadership can create uncertainty among behavioral health staff. Often leadership roles are not filled by experienced clinicians, which means that executives are less knowledgeable about providers’ needs. This can hinder communication and create frustration and stress.
Consequences of Burnout
Although providers may suffer in silence, the consequences of burnout can be wide-reaching. A few of them include:
Increased risk of medical and administrative errors
Higher staff turnover
Drug and alcohol abuse among counselors
Feelings of hopelessness and thoughts of suicide
Physical symptoms such as headaches and gastrointestinal issues
How to Prevent or Reduce Counselor Burnout
Even when the causes of burnout are systemic, there are ways that therapists and practices can reduce burnout risk:
Healthy stress management: Individual clinicians can learn methods for stress management. Practices may consider offering stress management workshops for team members.
Promote flexible and part-time scheduling: Encourage work-life balance among clinicians by giving them more control over scheduling options.
Shift administrative tasks to non-medical staff: Letting therapists do what they do best can help them regain their sense of purpose and reduce frustration.
Reach out for support: Having their own therapist or mentor can help clinicians cope with feelings of burnout.
More efficient tools: Use the right EHR system for your practice, one that offers easy implementation, reduced clicks, and thorough technical support.
Don’t settle for a frustrating EHR system that contributes to burnout. BestNotes solutions are created with behavioral health and addiction treatment providers in mind, allowing you to do what you do best. Contact us to learn more.