The Cost of Burnout

It’s no surprise that work-related burnout can lead to some serious effects on your mental and physical health. While it is inevitable to experience at least some stress in the workplace, prolonged stress and anxiety can take a significant toll on one’s personal well-being.

But how much does our mental health actually cost us?

According to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), “the economic burden of mental illness in Canada is estimated at $51 billion per year” (CAMH, 2011), and “each year one in five Canadians will experience a mental health or addiction problem… [with] some areas, such as Ontario… as high as one in four” (Globe and Mail, 2017). Moreover, it has been found that “in any given week, at least 500,000 employed Canadians are unable to work due to mental health problems…[with] approximately 355,000 disability cases due to mental and/or behavioural disorders” (CAMH, 2011).

While the costs of mental health for employers and the Canadian economy are typically discussed, the costs to the individual are often neglected. Everyone deals with stress and anxiety differently, and while it is important to be mindful of the risks of burnout, the financial costs of dealing with stress should also be considered. This is not to say that these costs should be prevented or avoided, but rather, set aside as an investment for your own well-being.

In addition to setting up an emergency fund, setting up a separate fund specifically to maintain your mental, emotional, and physical health may provide some peace of mind knowing that you have funds available to take care of yourself.

Here are some costs that may arise when dealing with potential burnout:

1. Recreational activities or memberships

Studies have shown that engaging in sports or activities that you enjoy can help stimulate endorphins or “feel-good” chemicals that help cope with stress. While there are numerous activities you can do (such as forest bathing) that won’t cost a dime, if you enjoy taking fitness classes or going to the gym, memberships can range anywhere from $10 to $100+ a month depending on the gym or activity.

2. Therapy or counselling

Seeking professional help from a therapist or coach is a wonderful way to cope with stress and anxiety. Depending on your insurance coverage, some types of therapy or coaching may be covered, however, if out-of-pocket payment is required, you can expect sessions to cost anywhere from $50 to $150 an hour.

3. Alternative medical treatments

While traditional medical treatments are often covered by most provincial and/or employee medical plans, alternative medical treatments such as Chinese herbal medicine, IV vitamin therapy, or supplements may not be covered. While the types of treatments or medication may vary, you can expect costs for alternative medication ranging from $30 to $100+ at a time.

4. Travel

Whether you find joy in going away for a weekend, a week-long holiday, or for months at a time, there’s no doubt that traveling is good for the soul. Depending on the type of traveller you are and the duration of time you are traveling for, the costs to travel will vary. Check out some tips from our friends at Borrowell on how you can prepare for your next trip without breaking the bank.

5. Career change

When experiencing burnout, it’s important to take a step back and analyze your current position or professional career. If the work you do or the position you are in no longer provides a sense of fulfillment or purpose to your overall life, it may be time to consider other options or a career change. Start by breaking down the costs of this change, and the investment you are willing to make for your personal and professional growth.

Mental health is a serious issue, and burnout, as a result of chronic stress can be detrimental to your well-being. Maintaining good mental health is not just an investment in yourself, but a key aspect of improving your quality of life.

We hope this helped to break down the potential costs of dealing with work-related stress, not as a preventative measure, but to show the value of taking care of yourself first.