In Belgium, stress and burn-out are responsible for one-third of all days off work. Furthermore, the increase in mental illnesses (including burnout and depression) to a large extent explains the increase in the number of people permanently leaving the workforce on health grounds. Faced with this worrying economic and health problem, the Belgian Federal agency for occupational risks (FEDRIS) launched a pilot project on burnout in January 2019.

Funded to the tune of €2.5 million, the aim of this 3-year project is to provide support for workers threatened or affected by an early stage of burnout associated with exposure to one or more work-related psychosocial risks. The pilot project will be open solely to people working in the sectors of hospital care and financial services. At the end of a two-step enrolment procedure, workers with a confirmed diagnosis of (pre-) burnout will be offered an individual “support path” using bodymind or cognitive-emotional approaches to help them stay at work or to get back to work quickly.

The unions are very much in favour of such projects, as they bear witness to policymakers’ heightened awareness of the problem of psychosocial risks. Obviously, in order to be successful and to counteract the disturbing trend of ill-being at work, secondary prevention projects of this kind will have to be accompanied by strengthened primary prevention measures. Moreover, looking after workers threatened or affected by early-stage burnout can only be a first step towards looking at the situation of workers in a more serious stage of burnout. At the moment, the Belgian Ministry of Social Affairs and Public Health considers burnout to be a work-related illness. When will it be recognised as an occupational disease?

For more information:

Projet pilote burn-out (FEDRIS) in Frenchée-au-travail-lancement-d'un-projet-pilote-dès-novembre in French