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World Health Organization calls burnout an ‘occupational phenomenon’

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Geneva — The term “burnout” is defined more clearly in the World Health Organization’s 11th revision of its International Classification of Diseases.

WHO describes burnout as an “occupational phenomenon,” not a medical condition, that results from unmanaged workplace stress. According to the organization, the syndrome has “three dimensions”:

  • Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion
  • Increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativity or cynicism related to the work
  • Reduced effectiveness on the job

WHO states that burnout applies only in occupational contexts and “should not be applied to describe experiences in other areas of life.” The organization also noted that it is beginning to formulate new evidence-based guidance for mental health and well-being at work.

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