Stress and Burnout Essay

Running head: BURNOUT: A CHALLENGE TO THE HUMAN SERVICES Burnout: A Challenge to the Human Services Roxanne Arballo BSHS 461 – University of Phoenix ? Burnout: A Challenge to the Human Services Those who work in the Human Services field and nonprofit areas are highly vulnerable to burn out. 2010 provides larger numbers of clientele, forced human service personnel overtime work hours, on-call after hours, and other schedule and work imbalances. World population numbers are escalating as the budget for the health services is on a continual decline.

Causes of burnout for the human services professional may be individual, cultural, organizational, supervisory, or from lack of social support. According to Johnson and Stone (1987), burnout “refers to a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion resulting from involvement with people in emotionally demanding situations”. Three major factors of burnout (Maslach, Jackson, & Leiter, 1996) are emotional exhaustion, a feeling of low personal accomplishment with clients, and a sense of depersonalization (a dehumanizing, uncaring attitude toward clients).

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According to Maslach & Leiter, burnout is the degree of “dislocation between what people are and what they have to do. ” Effects of burnout might appear in the form of exhaustion, detatchment, and feelings of ineffectiveness. These results might be from the “gradual process of loss during which the mismatch between the needs of the person and the demands of the job grows ever greater. Maslach and Leiter (1997) have summarized these causes into “the categories of work overload, a lack of control, insufficient rewards (from money to joy), a breakdown in community, the absence of fairness (trust, openness, and respect), and conflicting values. ” Previously labeled causes of burnout included types of organization, supervision, social support, and culture. More recently, Maslach and Leiter (1997) summarized these causes into the categories of work overload, lack of control, insufficient rewards (from money to joy), breakdown in community, the absence of fairness (trust, openness, and respect), and conflicting values.

To prevent these various stages of burnout, included are individual, job role, and organizational methods. Some clients might be violent and jeopardize the professional’s safety. Demands for a worker’s time might prevent taking meal or rest breaks. Steps must be taken to protect them, to the degree possible, from some of the work-related stress that can lead to burnout. Cherniss (1980) suggests that a number of positive steps can be taken to lessen organizational stress and prevent burnout. These include a change in the way jobs are structured.

Flextime, part-time work, job sharing, new program development, and new career options might help modify the routine patterns of the human service professional and lessen likelihood of burnout. In reference to the organization, members who share a sense of excitement, strong purpose, clear goals and objectives help create preventative measures for burnout. Use of problem-solving groups and other organizational change activities help ensure that workers are doing meaningful work (Cherniss, 1995).

Also monitored are overload with impossible demands and a feeling of decision-making autonomy appropriate for human service professionals. Support, information, and some degree of structure might be needed along with feedback and an understanding of their own importance as role models. A number of factors can stand in the way of good job performance and cause well-earned productivity to decline. These can include job-related stress and personal concerns. When it becomes a concern of the organization, it affects on-the-job behavior.

Employee assistance programs (EAPs) for workers experiencing such problems (Van Den Bergh, 1995) have been developed to include services like counseling and referrals as well as crisis management services. These programs enhance employee wellbeing, offer supervisor training, and create employee problem-solving task forces that are part of the EAPs used by an increasing number of organizations. One method I, as a student and human services worker, use to reduce personal and work-related stress is to spend at least 10 minutes alone each day.

Whether I spend this time at home, the library, or driving in the car, this alone time seems to put me in a better mood. I find that regular exercise is another way to reduce stress and prevent burnout. I notice that the less I exercise, the higher my stress level is. I try to get outside, thank my Higher Power for everything including the hardships that might be potential for burnout, and share the success in these measures of prevention. Due to personal changes in my life, I am taking on new responsibilities and find it hard to adjust to these added tasks in my daily routine.

Therefore I am working to decrease stress and possible burnout through a growing passion and thanks for my family, future career, and faith. My belief that personal struggles are ways to learn and be a power source for other human services students and professionals are certain preventative measures I do and will continue to take against the threat of burnout. References Cherniss, C. (1980). Professional burnout in human service organizations. New York: Praeger. Cherniss, C. (1995). Beyond burnout. New York: Routledge. Johnson, M. , & Stone, G. L. (1987).

Social workers and burnout: A psychological description. Journal of Social Science Research, 10 (1), 67-80. Maslach, C. , & Leiter, M. (1997). The truth about burnout: How organizations cause personal stress and how to get out of it. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Maslach, C. , Jackson, S. , & Leiter, M. (1996). The Maslach Burnout Inventory Manual (3rd ed. ). Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press. Van Den Bergh, N. (1995). Employee assistance programs. In R. Edwards (Ed. ), The Encyclopedia of social work (19th ed. , pp. 842-849). Washington, DC: NASW Press.


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