As Americans brace themselves for year three of pandemic life, their mental health hits an all-time low, according to the Mental Health Index: U.S. Worker Edition. Most notably, PTSD, depression and addiction soar amid skyrocketing cases of Omicron. An alarming 1 in 4 American workers screened positive for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – up 54% in the past three months and up 136% when compared to pre-pandemic. Depression is surging – up 87% since fall (63% higher than before COVID19).
Men show a sharp rise in risk of addiction – up 80% between September and December 2021. In just the past three months, depression among men is up 118%, and social anxiety is up 162%. When looking specifically at men ages 40-59, general anxiety is up 94%.
“We expect mental health declines around the holidays; however, nothing of this sheer magnitude,” said Mathew Mund, CEO, Total Brain. “We see a very troublesome surge in mental health concerns at a time when Omicron begins to grip the nation; workplace vaccine mandates are put in place; and the holiday season is in full swing. Employers must be prepared to address trauma in the workplace. Understanding the risks and pressures that may exist for employees and normalizing workplace mental health discussions are important first steps.”
The Mental Health Index: U.S. Worker Edition, powered by Total Brain, a mental health monitoring and support platform, is distributed in partnership with the National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions, One Mind at Work, and the HR Policy Association and its American Health Policy Institute.
Michael Thompson, National Alliance president and CEO, commented, “The omicron surge has had a parallel effect on the mental health of our workforce. While we had hoped the worst was behind us, employers will want to double down on efforts to create a supportive environment as the issues created by the pandemic continue.”
Margaret Faso, director, Health Care Research and Policy of HR Policy Association, said, “It is distressing that the rapid spread of the Omicron variant has compounded the typical holiday behavioral health declines. Large employers continue to work tirelessly to provide employees with increased workplace flexibility and benefits, including access to health care services. The uncertainty around federal COVID policies adds to the stress felt at the workplace; however, employers have continued to focus on the safety and well-being of employees, regardless of mandates or federal policy. It is our hope that as the Omicron variant dissipates, the stress, depression and anxiety of America’s workers also declines, and the associated behavioral health of all Americans improves.”
“This sustained impact on the mental health of today’s workforce will require an equally sustained impact and effort on the part of employers,” said Daryl Tol, executive vice president of One Mind at Work. “Often, we look for simple or short-term solutions to complex problems, however it’s evident that it is going to take dedicated, ongoing work to advance mental health programs for employees on an impactful scale.”