Alternative forms of care can prevent burnout for the mental health professional

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As mental health professionals who engage and work with the teenage population, self-care should be a priority. A common concern among professionals in the mental health field is the issue of staff burnout, which can be defined in the following ways:

  • Emotional exhaustion, or the state of being overextended, fatigued, or depleted
  • Reduced sense of personal efficiency; this might also include a decrease in overall job effectiveness or a negative self-evaluation of one’s work
  • Depersonalization, also referred to as “cynicism” or having a negative attitude toward one’s work or customers

The experience of staff burnout might be much more common among mental health workers, with research demonstrating that approximately 21 to 67 percent experience high levels of burnout. Burnout can become problematic for not only the health professional but also the patients who are being served.

Employees who struggle with burnout might commonly experience compromised physical and emotional wellness and health, which can in turn impact the quality of care that they provide. The implications of burnout at the workplace stretch from the individual through the organization, with an overall effect on the quality of services that the company can provide.

The importance of maintaining health

As mental health staff working with a unique teenage population, maintaining health and wellness is crucial to preventing burnout and the negative outcomes associated with this condition. Effective methods for improving health include reducing stress and increasing coping skills and cognitive restructuring. Some alternative therapies can be effective in reducing burnout, improving physiological states, lowering overall blood pressure, reducing stress and improving emotional and physical wellness. Below are three effective therapies.


Mindfulness, or the psychological state of awareness, is a practice defined by moment-by-moment awareness of one’s experience without judgment. Mindfulness can be perceived as a state of being, which can be achieved through various activities or practices, including meditation and yoga. Practicing a state of mindfulness can lead to emotional regulation, decreased reactivity and increased response flexibility.

Massage therapy

Massage therapy, or the manual manipulation of soft body tissues (including connective tissue, muscle, ligaments and tendons), can improve a person’s emotional and physical health and well-being. Research has demonstrated that massage therapy can also be effective in reducing stress and related symptoms, including shoulder tension, insomnia, fatigue, headaches and muscle and joint pain. By utilizing the benefits offered through massage therapy, health care providers might find an effectual outlet for coping with and easing work-related stress.

Acupuncture therapy

Acupuncture is a complementary medical practice that involves stimulating certain points throughout the body, most often with a specialized needle that penetrates the skin. This ancient Eastern practice has been shown to help alleviate and treat chronic pain, reduce inflammation, improve functions in the body (such as digestion) and promote self-healing. Acupuncture therapy might also include manual massage, heat therapy, cupping, moxibustion, and topical application of herbal medicines. Research on this traditional Chinese technique has also shown the benefits on the nervous system, immune system and cardiovascular system. This treatment produces very few side effects.

Keep self-care a priority

Maintaining mental health and wellness are necessary and crucial for the prevention of burnout among mental health providers and professionals. A variety of techniques and treatments can be utilized for the promotion of self-care, including but not limited to mindfulness, massage therapy and acupuncture therapy. Sustaining emotional and physical health requires time and effort. Mental health professionals, particularly those working with teenagers, can increase their overall work effectiveness and decrease their overall risk of experiencing burnout by keeping their health a priority.

For more information on White River Academy, a therapeutic boarding school for adolescent males, call (866) 520-0905.

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