Human Services:

Burnout- Human Service Nightmare

Burnout: A Human Service Nightmare
Kaplan University
Edie Oliver
A phone call will not change anything; there is no way of combating the problem, no easy way out.   A child is in a home where she is beaten, malnourished, possibly sexually abused, and made to feel that she is an outcast.   She is only six years old.   The human services caseworker goes to the home and wants to grab her up and run, but she knows, legally, there is nothing she can do.   Human service professionals face the daunting task of making the hard decisions like this on a daily basis, leaving some with cases of burnout they never overcome, leading to a life dependent on the same system that lead to their own disability brought on by guilt, depression and chronic fatigue.
Imagine 14,894 child abuse and neglect assessments with only 155 caseworkers to handle them.   The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services conducted a study in 2011 that showed an increase of 1.61% from 2009 in cases handled with a 6.86% decrease in staff (Pgs. 1-5).   That would mean each caseworker would have a caseload of 96 individuals.   The high emotional demands and guilt play a large role in the stress that leads to burnout in many of these professionals.   Smith, Segal & Segal (2013) describes burnout as “a state of emotional, mental and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress” (Par. 2).   Feelings of helplessness, seeing life as bleak or unyielding, unhappiness and a profound detachment for life are just a few of the symptoms and signs of burnout that can ultimately threaten health, relationships and jobs.
Recognizing the symptoms and taking the appropriate action, such as contacting your doctor, is the first step to combating burnout.   The diagnosis for burnout is Compassion Fatigue, sometimes referred to as Secondary Traumatic Stress Disorder (STSD).   STSD is an occupational hazard among child welfare workers and levels harmful...