Myth: burnout is an extreme condition

Extreme burnout

I was recently speaking with a friend who is on sick leave from her job. She’s been through a lot in her personal life and finally her doctor decided she needed to take time off. When we met, she started asking me questions about my burnouts. I could sense she was curious and trying to understand more, perhaps trying to decide if she herself was burned out. And in this conversation several times she said to me “yeah but you were never on sick leave, right”? Or “yes but you never reached the stage where you couldn’t get out of bed, right”? And then it occurred to me: she was trying to check if I’d had a “real burnout”, where real burnout equated with an extreme condition in which you literally can’t get out of bed any more and have to take sick leave.

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Mental health in the workplace – what should your employer do?

Mental health in the workplace: overcome stress and beat burnout

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of being on a panel at work called “Overcome stress and beat burnout” along with 3 other colleagues who are passionate about this topic. We spoke a lot about what you as an individual can do to look after yourself and there were a lot of great tips. We spoke about boundaries, expectations of yourself, and having honest conversations with your colleagues. But someone also asked “what can the employer do for us?”, and I’ve been thinking about this ever since.

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My mental health has changed

My mental health has changed

I’m currently on holiday enjoying the beautiful European summer, and it wouldn’t be a proper holiday unless I was using the time to reflect on life and the past 6-7 months of this year. Whilst we were chatting, a friend of mine pointed out to me that I’ve been stressed at work now for pretty much the better part of the year which I realized was true. Following that, I also realized that although I’ve been stressed it’s not affecting me the same as it used to and suddenly it dawned on me: my relationship to stress and my mental health has changed completely.

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Real life mental health stories: using the law to support mental health

Who are you, and why did you decide to share your story?


My name is Steve, I’m 30 and work as a Consultant Mental Health Lawyer within the West Midlands of the United Kingdom. 

I can remember dealing with mental health issues whilst I was studying at University as I suffered chronic anxiety, and didn’t know how to manage or cope with it. Some days it was a success If I got out of bed and that’s all I did that day. I knew I couldn’t carry on living like this and that’s when I realised I needed help, which I discussed with my family and sought professional help from a psychologist privately.

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Real life mental health stories: postpartum psychosis

Disclaimer: this may read like a story, but it is a real life account by someone. Please note that this story may be difficult to read if you are a mum, if you are pregnant, or if you want to be a mum in the future. 

Please do not read if you are afraid this will negatively impact your mental health – and take the necessary precautions. 

The original of this post was written in French and you can find it here.

postpartum psychosis
Photo by Josh Willink from Pexels

Who are you, and what made you want to share your story?

My name is Aurélie, I am the mother of three children, and I work in childcare. After the birth of my first son, I experienced the worst time of my life. I wanted to share my experience because while baby blues and postpartum depression are somewhat well known, they are still relatively taboo in our society.

On the other hand, postpartum psychosis is barely talked about at all if not completely unknown for most people. And yet, a number of young mothers go through this experience or through depression, while their friends and family aren’t able to understand or identify what’s happening to them. 

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Real life mental health stories: totally burnt out

Totally burnt out

Who are you, and why did you decide to share your story?

I am a woman in my mid-thirties and I work in the humanitarian sector. During a recent long-term field assignment, I experienced what I later discovered to be burnout. At the time I had little knowledge about this mental health issue, so for a long time I simply ignored the signals my mind and my body were sending me. 

By sharing my experience, I’d like to shed light on burnout, its symptoms and its consequences. In my sector there is still a lot of stigma around it, so I think that reading about others’ stories may be of help to those going through (or suspecting they are going through) the same experience. 

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12 ways you know you’re in the right job

12 ways you know you're in the right job

While I’ve often talked about the negative circumstances you can encounter in the workplace and how these contribute to mental health problems, it’s also important to talk about the positive experiences to counterbalance that. After all it’s not all doom and gloom and there are plenty of experiences to show there is hope when it comes to finding a workplace that is good for your mental health.

What’s more, it’s important for you to think about what a good place to work might look like for you, when it comes to your mental health. How do you want to feel in the workplace, and more importantly, how will you know it’s “right”?

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Secrecy around mental health at work

Secrecy around mental health at work
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Previously I talked about the idea that mental health is bad for your career, in fact busting the myth wide open. But along with this commonplace myth come a load of other issues. Enter: secrecy around mental health at work.

While the topic is gaining momentum, we’re still not in a place where people openly volunteer information about their mental health in the workplace. Thanks to COVID19 I’ve seen the media and employers paying far more attention to mental health, which means companies are looking for ways to address the issue and bring mental wellbeing to the forefront of their agenda. I couldn’t be more excited!

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Mental health is bad for your career

As always, one of the reasons I write these posts and maintain this blog is to raise awareness around mental health so there are fewer myths and we’re able to talk about it more openly.

One of the main challenges with mental health and people feeling comfortable speaking up is that there is still a lot of stigma around it. We’ve definitely made progress but we’re not yet in a place where you can openly say to your employer “I suffer from depression” without being afraid of getting fired.

So today I want to address this common myth that mental health is bad for your career and break it down. Why do we believe this, what are the fears and most importantly, how do we overcome it?

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Job hunting and mental health

Job hunting and mental health

Long read

The past few months I wrote a few posts revolving around the corona crisis, but there’s one very important topic I haven’t covered yet – you guessed it – job hunting.

This topic is close to my heart as I’ve been unemployed, and have experience with the ups and downs that come with it. Now due to coronavirus things are different: many people have lost their jobs unexpectedly, perhaps overnight or without much warning. This creates difficult conditions in which to be searching for a new job, not to mention the mental health struggles that come with it.

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The emotional damage of working in a toxic environment

Photo by Nathan Cowley from Pexels

It’s been a while since I wrote a blog post on the topic of mental health at work. Understandably a lot of other things have happened the past few months, but this remains my core area of interest and where I want to break down barriers. I decided it was time I got back to it, and was listening to Esther Perel’s podcast “How’s work” when this topic came to mind.

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The road to recovery – my mental health journey

Emma Brooks
Emma Brooks

If you’ve followed me over the past few years, by now you might have followed bits and pieces of my mental health journey too. It all started with my blog post “living with anxiety“, and since then I’ve gone on to share more via YouTube. Below is a summary:

And in this blog post as you might have guessed, I want to cover the topic of recovery.

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Integrating the different parts of your life

Back in November 2019 I attended the Women in Tech Regatta and was inspired by several of the talks I attended. One of them was around “Integrating career and parenthood” and as I was sitting there, I felt that it touched upon some of the tensions we face in the workplace when battling with our mental health regardless of whether we are parents or not.

This got me thinking of the work-life balance again, and how we can create work environments that are favourable to managing the different roles we have in life.

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What is burnout trying to tell us?

What is burnout trying to tell us

There’s a lot of information out there about burnout, but have you ever stopped to think about what it really means? What is the message being sent to you from your mind and body when you burn out?

We can talk a lot about the circumstances that lead to burnout and in fact it’s easy to blame others, particularly employers. They overwork us, they don’t see us for who we are, etc. etc. But let’s take a step back and ask ourselves what the burnout was trying to tell us. This is something we don’t talk about so often, and yet it’s crucial if we want to be better able to understand and prevent burnout.

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