Everyone’s Talking about Mental Health. So Why is There Still a Stigma around Burnout?

The truth about why it exists — and what we can do to overcome burnout stigma.

Sally Clarke
3 min readJun 21, 2021
Unsplash, Kelly Sikkema

Ryan Reynolds acknowledging his anxiety issues. Naomi Osaka withdrawing from the French Open and Wimbledon due to ongoing bouts of depression. Meghan Markle opening up about her suicidal thoughts.

Right now, mental health issues are at the forefront of popular culture.

This is great: shedding light on these topics forms an important step towards destigmatizing mental health issues such as burnout.

But much more needs to change, to end burnout stigma.

How stigma works.

A stigma is a barrier rooted in prejudice, avoidance, rejection, and discrimination due to a lack of understanding.

In burnout, stigma usually plays out in two forms.

One is perceived stigma: what we think others will think about our burnout. Namely, that they will consider us inferior, fallible, and weak.

When we internalize these beliefs, it becomes self stigma. The thoughts shift from “they will think I’m bad if I burn out” to “I am bad if I burn out.”



Sally Clarke

Wellbeing & burnout author, expert, writer & speaker. Global adventurer. she/her www.salcla.com