Job burn-out is a term we are used to hearing, and some studies say that up to 67% of Americans will experience job burn-out. In the most recent (11th) revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) produced by the World Health Organization (WHO), burn-out is described as a result of “chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed…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.”
While this international acknowledgment of burn-out provides a helpful validation of the condition and offers credibility to those who suffer from it, many insurance and healthcare systems still lack adequate protocol for providing care for workers struggling with job burn-out.
In a previous post on PTSD and workers’ comp, we took a look at how Georgia law categorizes injuries and how those definitions govern workers’ compensation policies. To recap, Georgia law categorizes injuries in three ways: physical-mental, mental-physical, and mental-mental.
- Physical-mental cases deal with situations where a physical injury gave rise to debilitating psychological or emotional distress. In other words, a physical injury occurred that gave rise to mental or emotional challenges. In these cases, under Georgia law, workers’ comp would cover treatment expenses.
- The mental-physical designation covers cases where a mental workplace trauma initiates physical symptoms that impair work or quality of life, e.g., bullying at work that eventually starts causing panic attacks or migraines. Despite the physical symptoms impairing the employee’s ability to work, Georgia workers’ compensation laws do not currently cover mental-physical cases.
- Mental-mental cases include scenarios where extreme mental or psychological stress is placed on a person, often in a consistent or chronic manner, that, over time, causes a breakdown in mental well-being, e.g., bullying that triggers depression. Once again, in this situation, because no obvious physical injury is involved, no workers’ comp would be required according to state law.
Most of the time, job burn-out would be categorized as mental-physical or mental-mental. What this means is that, although the WHO recognizes the legitimacy of job burn-out, Georgia law has not yet adapted to provide care and protection to employees experiencing burn-out. Still, if you or someone you care about is struggling with any other issues related to worker’s compensation, we invite you to reach out to our office. We will gladly listen to your story and seek to find a better way forward for you.