Stress, burnout, and job dissatisfaction in mental health workers

  • Wulf RösslerEmail author


As the industrial world has transformed toward a service economy, a particular interest has developed in mental health problems at the workplace. The risk for burnout is significantly increased in certain occupations, notably for health care workers. Beyond the effects of an extensive workload, many working hours, or long night shifts, the medical field has specific stressors. Physicians work in emotionally demanding environments with patients, families, or other medical staff. They must make quick decisions while faced with a quite frequent information overload. All of these stressors have to be weighed against a rapidly changing organizational context within medicine. Today, economics objectives have priority over medical values in health care. In principal, mental health workers should experience similar work stressors and the same contextual factors as health professionals from other medical disciplines. However, several studies have identified stressors that are unique to the psychiatric profession. These challenges range from the stigma of this profession, to particularly demanding relationships with patients and difficult interactions with other mental health professionals as part of multidisciplinary teams to personal threats from violent patients. Other sources of stress are a lack of positive feedback, low pay, and a poor work environment. Finally, patient suicide is a major stressor, upon which a majority of mental health workers report post-traumatic stress symptoms.


Burnout Depression Stress Job dissatisfaction Physician Psychiatrist Mental health worker 



This article is part of the supplement “Personalized Psychiatry and Psychotherapy”. This supplement was not sponsored by outside commercial interests. It was funded by the German Association for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy (DGPPN).

Conflict of interest

The author declares that he has no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of General and Social Psychiatry, Psychiatric University HospitalUniversity of ZurichZurichSwitzerland
  2. 2.Collegium Helveticum (a joint Research Institute between the University of Zurich and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology)ZurichSwitzerland
  3. 3.Leuphana UniversityLüneburgGermany

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