In 2015, UNICEF participated in a UN-wide survey assessing staff wellbeing and contributors of mental health. The survey was partially or fully completed by 17,363 United Nations staff. Among the findings that emerged from the survey were high levels of mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Additionally, a considerable number of UN staff, including those working for UNICEF, reported high levels of workplace burnout.

There is growing recognition in the mental
health field that the prevention and reduction of burnout needs to be addressed at the individual and organizational level. In addition, burnout culture is often deeply embedded into the systems and practices of day-to-day work. Changes to practices that may contribute to burnout requires strategies that promote
knowledge, insight, and innovation around this issue.

In an effort to learn more about burnout culture at UNICEF and engage staff in the generation of potential innovations to these challenges, the UNICEF Staff Counseling department partnered with a psychologists and designers from The New School to lead a Burnout Innovation Focus Group drawing on concepts and tools from design-led thinking and brain science.