Coronavirus mental wave: millions at risk of burnout

Coronavirus mental wave: millions at risk of burnout

A number of psychologists fear an oncoming "mental wave" among the Dutch workforce as they worry about the future of their jobs. Millions could be at risk of burnout as a result of the coronavirus crisis. 

Psychologists fear oncoming "mental wave"

Psychologists fear that the number of people working in the Netherlands suffering from burnout is likely to increase in the near future following the stress of the coronavirus crisis: "In addition to a second coronavirus wave, there is also a mental wave coming."

Neuropsychologist Erik Matser estimates there are around four million people in the Netherlands currently at risk of burnout. He says, under normal circumstances, the country has "only" one million so-called hidden burnouts - people who, when placed under increased stress, suffer a burnout within three to six months. He believes this is because people are no longer able to shake off worrying thoughts because of the ongoing onslaught of bad news. 

Matser warns of an emotional pandemic in the coming six months and worries that mental health care in the Netherlands will be unable to deal with it.

Four million at risk of burnout

The National Centre for Prevention of Stress and Burn-Out (NCPSB) conducted a study among 427 professionals in the Netherlands which revealed four million people were at risk of burnout. 

The number of people at risk has risen sharply since 2019 as a result of the coronavirus crisis. When the same study was conducted in 2019, 17 percent of workers were at risk of having to take leave because of burnout within the following six months if no action was taken. This number has risen to 56 percent in 2020.

NCPSB chairman, Theo Immers says the rise is likely due to the fact that many people struggle to maintain a healthy work-life balance and are unable to manage their stress levels when working from home. Furthermore, a number of people fear they lack security in their jobs as a result of the coronavirus lockdown and the consequent economic situation. 

Preventing a burnout

Immers is appealing to employers to look after their employees: “It must be made known that this is an issue and preventive action is being taken,” he says, “You have to remove the cause. You do not let someone with a broken leg walk immediately, that leg must first heal. We have to try to explain to people how they work and how they should deal with stress.”

He advises providing personal coaching sessions to those most at risk of burnout, stating that merely three to four hours of coaching could make a significant difference and help employees to acknowledge and manage their stress.

Victoria Séveno


Victoria Séveno

Victoria grew up in Amsterdam, before moving to the UK to study English and Related Literature at the University of York and completing her NCTJ course at the Press Association...

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