Best practices to identify and battle the burnout factor

Eric Singer

Crisis management isn’t always a one and done situation where you can fire off an email or do an on-camera interview and move on to the next situation. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic, violent and non-violent police protests across the country and handling daily non-emergency events can all take a toll on the public information officer community and other first responders. Dr. Marnin Fischbach is a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based, clinical psychiatrist, who spoke with me about the burnout factor for ongoing crisis management on the PAST Fusion Cell News Line.

Recognizing how the burnout is affecting your performance on and off the job is crucial says Dr. Fischbach, “There is a minor burnout that is different from a major burnout. If you are having a minor burnout you are having symptoms like minor anxiety, minor depression, minor insomnia. These can go away with the proper treatment and proper care. On the other hand, these symptoms can wax into a major burnout which becomes permanent and has a permanent effect on your behavioral functioning as well as on your physical functioning. The idea is to prevent the minor burnout from becoming the major burnout.”

Dr. Fischbach believes minor burnout solutions include taking a walk, veg out, listen to your favorite music or meditate, “Get away from the situation before you come back to it. That will restore your mental and physical homeostasis.” Dr. Fischbach also relayed to me another possibility to help restore that calm to your life, “There are negative ions in the air that nature uses to clean the air. Anecdotal reports indicate that these negative ions are also anti-anxiety and anti-depressant. You can buy a negative ion machine that sends negative ions into the air. There will presumably have the same anecdotal affects like being outdoors in terms of lowering your anxiety and depression.”

While this can help with the minor burnout, public information officers and other first responders also need to be vigilant to identify that they may be experiencing a major burnout and seek professional help says Dr. Fischbach, “It’s when your symptoms become so overwhelming and so overstimulating and permanent that they actually impair your functioning. The symptoms will stop you from going to work, taking care of your health needs, taking care of your children and ultimately doing what you do on a day to day basis to keep you going. That’s when professional help is needed.”

Finding the appropriate resources and support can be a phone call or email away to your human resources department to learn more about your organization’s employee assistance program. “It can provide six or so sessions of free care, verbal care, therapy care to help with the minor burnout issues. When the symptoms become severe and permanent, the employee assistance program will refer you to a medical professional. If you don’t have an employee assistance program you can get a medical professional or psychotherapy from your health plan. Your health plan is obligated to provide you with therapists and doctors in your zip code. Call the member services phone number on the back of your card and they will provide you with the appropriate referrals.”

Dr. Fischbach told me that the issue of burnout with public information officers or other first responders is too important to overlook. You must seek help, “When the symptoms become so overwhelming, we step in to figure out what the problem is, what the solution is and help people get back to normal functioning.”

Click on this link (hyperlink: ) to learn more about Dr. Marnin Fischbach who is a clinical psychiatrist in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. You can also click on the link below to listen to my full Mp3 interview with Dr. Fischbach.

Flash Briefing – June 4, 2020