Burnout and mental health

Burnout can result from too much stress at work, or stress that goes on too long. It can also impact people undertaking unpaid home or caring duties.

Burnout is a combination of feeling exhausted. Feeling negative about (or less connected to) the work or activity you're doing. And a feeling of reduced performance.

Understanding burnout and stress at work helps you to act sooner and protect your mental health.


How does burnout feel?

People experience stress and burnout in different ways. But it’s useful to be aware of the common signs, especially if any have been happening to you for a while.

You might feel:

  • isolated or trapped
  • irritable
  • a lack of your usual energy or motivation
  • less satisfied with work
  • exhausted or drained
  • a sense of procrastination
  • disengaged from work you used to value
  • you’re not sleeping like you usually do
  • headaches and body pain.

You might even find it hard to function at all. This can have a big impact on your mental health and wellbeing. There are things you can do to help you manage.

Causes of burnout

A broad range of work-related factors can cause stress that leads to burnout.

Learn more about work-related factors that can cause stress.

No matter what kind of work you do, the risk of stress and burnout exists. That risk is greater if you work in a caring industry such as healthcare, emergency services or education.


Ways to manage burnout

If you’re experiencing burnout, there are things you can do to support your mental health. There’s no one ‘right’ approach that works for everyone. So you should try to prioritise the things you think will work well for you.

Reach out for support

Talking about what you're going through with other people might feel hard. It’s important to try. If you feel up to it, reach out to someone you trust, whether in person or by message.

You might also try chatting anonymously online with others who are going through a similar experience.

Visit the Beyond Blue Forums

If you’re concerned about your mental health, support is available that’s right for you.

Learn how to get mental health support

Check your mental health

Everyone’s mental health journey is different. We all experience ups and downs, so it’s important to do regular check ins.

We have some simple tools to help you assess your mental health. You can choose the one that’s right for you and get the resources and support you may need.

Check your mental health

Put your wellbeing first

  • Review your boundaries, including those relating to work-life balance. Then consider what steps you can take to achieve them.
  • Be honest with yourself about how you’re feeling.
  • Be gentle on yourself.
  • Allow yourself enough time to relax, and enough time to sleep.
  • Practise basic self-care as part of your daily routine.

Learn other ways to look after your mental health and wellbeing

Learn more about mental health at work

Good work helps mental health and wellbeing. It can contribute to your daily activity. Your sense of purpose. Your income. And your social connection. But poor working conditions can harm your mental health.

Learn more about work and your mental health.

Around 1 in 2 people in Australia will struggle with their mental health during their life. If you’re recovering from or managing a mental health condition, work can play an important role.

Find ways to manage poor mental health at work

I had all the symptoms. I was getting angry and disassociated from my work. I didn’t want to do the work, I was desperate for a rest.

Read Geoff's mental health journey

Supporting someone at work

If you're concerned someone you know is experiencing burnout, it’s worth talking to them about it.

Learn how to talk to someone you’re worried about at work


Further resources

The Essential Network (TEN) for healthcare workers

TEN is an e-health hub developed by Black Dog Institute for healthcare workers. It provides resources and support to help you manage burnout and maintain good mental health.

Find out more about TEN.

National Emergency Worker Support Service

This service is free and confidential. It provides mental health support for all emergency service workers and volunteers. It was developed by the Black Dog Institute and UNSW Sydney.

Learn more about the National Emergency Worker Support Service

Educator wellbeing, Be You

A hub of resources that can help build and maintain educator wellbeing. These tools, fact sheets, guides and videos are for use by both individuals and learning communities.

Find resources on Be You’s Educator wellbeing page

NewAccess for Small Business Owners (NASBO)

NASBO is a guided self-help mental health coaching program. It’s free, confidential and convenient.

Learn more about NewAccess for Small Business Owners

Journey to recovery – personal stories

Learning more about other people’s experiences of mental health can help you better understand your own journey.

Read and watch more personal stories

"I thought I could outsmart my anxiety" – Colin's story

Colin shares his journey with anxiety, from trying to outsmart his condition to learning to live with it.

“I’m a doctor, I shouldn’t get sick” – Geoff’s experience of work stress and depression

Despite spending decades helping others get better, Geoff’s greatest challenge was taking care of himself.