In Latest Wave of Pandemic, APA Calls Attention to Ongoing Problem of Health Care Worker Burnout

Washington, D.C., Sept. 1, 2021 – This Labor Day weekend, health care workers will continue to work long hours and come face-to-face with the brutal realities of the latest wave of the pandemic. Even before COVID-19, health care workers were experiencing high rates of professional burnout, with nearly 50% of all physicians experiencing it. The multiple waves of the COVID-19 pandemic have added enormous pressure for many health care workers. A survey of health care workers earlier this year found that younger frontline health care workers seem to be the hardest hit, more than two-thirds (69%) said they feel “burned out.”

Burnout and mental health issues can overlap. Nearly half of the health care workers reported serious psychiatric symptoms during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a study in Psychiatric Services.

APA President Vivian Pender, M.D., advised health care workers directly: “If you are feeling the effects of burnout, talk about it with friends, colleagues and loved ones, and please, seek treatment if you need it. It is never selfish to prioritize your health & well-being.”

“The American Psychiatric Association is helping our health care workforce protect their well-being and to fix the systemic problems which contribute to professional burnout,” added APA CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A. “We know the system won’t change overnight, but we are committed to working toward positive change for health care workers.”

APA’s Committee on Psychiatrist Well-being and Burnout has developed a collection of resources to help support psychiatrists and other health care workers. Earlier this year, the APA Committee on Disaster Psychiatry also developed a guidance document on physician wellness through the lens of the COVID-19 pandemic and other disasters. Among the APA resources available are:

Addressing burnout will require actions on several levels—from the health care system to individual clinics and departments to individuals. APA is also working to support federal action, such as the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act, passed earlier this summer by the Senate, which would establish grants and support other efforts to improve mental and behavioral health and prevent burnout among health care providers. APA strongly encourages swift action on companion legislation which is awaiting action in the House.

Burnout Dr. Pender Quote Social Media Graphic.png Burnout Dr. Sul Levin Quote -- Social Media Graphic.png  Burnout Survey -- Social Media Graphic.png

American Psychiatric Association
The American Psychiatric Association, founded in 1844, is the oldest medical association in the country. The APA is also the largest psychiatric association in the world with 37,400 physician members specializing in the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and research of mental illnesses. APA’s vision is to ensure access to quality psychiatric diagnosis and treatment. For more information, please visit www.psychiatry.org.

Media Contacts

Erin Connors, 202-609-7113
econnors@psych.org

Press Line, 202-459-9732
press@psych.org