In May 2019, ‘Burn-out’ was included in the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) as an occupational phenomenon.

Contrary to what has been widely reported in the media, burnout is not classified as a medical condition.  However, as a recognised ‘occupational phenomenon’, WHO is about to embark on the development of evidence-based guidelines on mental well-being in the workplace.

Counsellors at The Buttery Private have welcomed the classification which differentiates burnout from everyday stress.

Butter Private program manager said, “People suffering burnout are in a state of physical, mental and emotional exhaustion because of their exposure to prolonged stress. They feel overwhelmed and drained emotionally and can no longer meet the unrelenting demands they face. The fact is, burnout is a serious condition which can’t be addressed just by a holiday,” he said.

Health retreats differ from evidence-based wellbeing programs such as The Buttery Private, which is a social enterprise that generates income to support the long-running charitable drug and alcohol treatment organisation, The Buttery. Participants take part in an intense four-week psychologically -focused program.

Burn-out is defined in the International Classification of Diseases as follows:

“Burn-out is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three dimensions:

  • feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion;
  • increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and
  • reduced professional efficacy.

Burn-out refers specifically to phenomena in the occupational context and should not be applied to describe experiences in other areas of life.”

Burn-out was also included in ICD-10, in the same category as in ICD-11, but the definition is now more detailed.