Therapists and counselors cite burnout as reason for leaving profession

Published: Jan. 14, 2022 at 8:50 PM CST
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - One of the consequences of the pandemic that is surfacing is a number of people leaving behind careers in mental health.

Action 2 News spoke to a handful of therapists and counselors over the past three weeks who say they feel overwhelmed and burned out by the increase in need.

“They’re giving away their lunch hours. They’re giving away their prep times. They’re giving away their extra spots to help these families and do right by them. But over the course of time, they become exhausted and worn down by doing that,” Scott Radtke, chief clinical officer of Catalpa Health, said.

Radtke says more and more people are calling from outside Northeast Wisconsin looking to book an appointment since they can’t find help.

“This period of time since Covid started has led to the highest number of families being referred to our clinic than I have seen as a clinician here in the valley in 25 years,” Radtke said.

He says of the seven providers who’ve left Catalpa Health, five are no longer working as therapists.

Mental health care workers Action 2 News spoke with report seeing increased levels of burnout among their colleagues. It’s largely a result of clients coming in more anxious and depressed due to the pandemic.

“Holding all that hopelessness for our clients is very difficult,” Rosangela Berbert said. She’s the executive director of Samaritan Counseling Center of the Fox Valley.

She says clinicians are feeling compassion fatigue, and aren’t taking the time to restore their internal resources.

“We’ve been working with our staff on acknowledging our need for self-care. Acknowledging our need to say maybe we need to reduce our case load a few weeks to take time off,” Berbert said.

Still, clinicians say you should not stop seeking them out and there are options if you’re in a crisis.

“Remember the emergency room is there for you,” Katie Meiers, supervisor case manager for Network Health, said. “It’s not just for heart attacks and other emergencies. It’s also for a mental health crisis, where if you don’t feel well. You feel like you want to hurt yourself, then it’s time to go in.”

Counselors and therapists also recommend calling a family member or friend for help.

Here are some resources:

  • 211
  • NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) 1-800-950-6264
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration 1-800-662-HELP (4357),

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