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Why Jacinda Ardern’s ‘rare’ admission about her mental health matters

Jacinda Ardern was praised for normalizing burnout after she declared she would resign as New Zealand’s prime Minister. She said she had “nothing left to the tank” and that she will “normalize” it.

Ms. Ardern, 42 years old, became the leader in 2017. She choked back tears at an emotional conference, where she stated: “I know what it takes, and I know I don’t have enough fuel to do it justice.” It’s as simple as that.

Even though she didn’t use the term “burnout” specifically, a prominent psychologist stated that this was what she meant.

Professor Sir Cary Cooper has just published Burnout in The Workplace.


Continue reading: How New Zealand’s PM was able to show empathy by deciding her role

“It is unfortunate that we can’t get enough people to say that, especially those in leadership. They just go on. Or they make excuses.

“It would be nice for them to be open and honest.”

Prof Cooper stated that it was “relatively rare for someone so high up” to talk about their mental health, especially in politics and business. However, there have been notable exceptions in past.

Kjell Bondevik (the Norwegian prime minister) announced that he was suffering from depression in 1998. He became the highest-ranking leader in the world to do so.

Recent business news: Tom Blomfield, founder of Monzo digital challenger bank, has spoken out about his anxiety and Stuart White, executive at HSBC, spoke out about his own depression.

Prof Cooper stated that Ms. Ardern’s honesty would have a positive impact on the world. “When people are in positions of influence, in senior positions, and say something, it has a greater effect on other people being open to sharing their thoughts.”

Image: Kjell Bondevik, the first person to speak publicly about mental health issues in the world, was Kjell Bondevik. Pic: AP

What’s burnout?

When you are subject to long-term stress, burnout can be a condition that causes physical and emotional exhaustion.

The World Health Organisation recognized it in 2019 as a medical condition. It is defined as “chronic workplace stress that hasn’t been successfully managed”.

This phrase was created in 1970 by Herbert Freudenberger, a psychologist who experienced so much stress and fatigue from his work that it was impossible to get out of bed.

He explained that burnout is not just exhaustion, and it’s not depression. It was a response to stress and frustration.

Freudenburger stated, “It’s a reaction to a demand an individual might make of themselves in terms of perfectionionism or drive.”

What are the symptoms of ?

Three symptoms are indicative of burnout:

  • Feelings like you are running out of energy or feeling exhausted
  • An increased mental distance from the job or negative or cynical feelings related to the job
  • Professional efficacy is reduced
Image: Ms. Ardern admitted to being burnt out and gave birth while she was in office in 2018. Pic: AP

What’s the problem?

Mental Health UK surveyed more than 2,000 Britons in March 2021 to find that one in five Britons felt “unable” to manage stress at work.

Only 23% of workers stated that their workplace had a plan to identify signs of chronic stress in order to prevent employees from becoming burnout.

In 2021/22, 51% of all cases of work-related illness were caused by stress, depression or anxiety.

Prof Cooper stated that “This is an important issue.”

Image Sam Fender cancels a series of concerts

Has anyone else spoken about it?

Sam Fender was unable to perform at a number of concerts last year due to his mental health issues and burnout.

On Twitter, he said that he had “neglected himself for more than a year now” and hadn’t dealt fully with the things that deeply affected him.

He said, “Me and my boys are exhausted and we need this break.”

Simone Biles, an American gymnast, withdrew from several finals of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics despite her expectation to match her four-year-old record.

Biles stated that she had “freaked in a high stress situation” and had decided to withdraw from the world and “focus on me well-being.” There’s more to life than gymnastics.

Learn more about mental health

Work stress causes ‘Sunday Scaries’

Teens ‘treated worse than animals’

Tiktok’s dangerous algorithm

Image Simone Biles was unable to attend several Olympic finals

Sandra Bullock: “It was like opening a fridge.”

Sandra Bullock, an award-winning actress, said that she was taking a break last year from acting.

“I feel so burned out. She told the Hollywood Reporter that she is tired and unable to make smart, healthy decisions.

Although she did not specify how long it would last, she said that work was her “crutch”.

She said, “It was like looking in a refrigerator all the time for something that wasn’t there.”

Image Sandra Bullock takes a break from her role as an actor

What to Do if You Think You Might Have Burnout

Prof Cooper advised that it was important to find out “what’s driving the burnout” in case you or someone you care about is concerned.

Call NHS 111 if stress is affecting you or causing distress. You can also get psychological therapy through the NHS IAPT without visiting your GP in England.

He said, “We always have options for whatever is driving our ill-health,”

“All of us have options.”

For help if you feel suicidal or emotionally distressed, call Samaritans on 116 123. Or email [email protected] For assistance in the USA, contact the Samaritans branch nearest you or call 1 (800) 273-TALK.

You can also seek assistance from Time to Change and the Mental Health Foundation.


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