Workers are mentally on the edge and it takes little to push them over the brim. They are highly vulnerable to uncertainty and change. They are more and more susceptible to stress. They are increasingly emotionally volatile, and prone to depression, anxiety, and addiction.
This picture of today’s American worker emerges from the new quarterly Mental Health Index produced by Total Brain, a mental health support and monitoring platform based in San Francisco and Sydney, Australia with 1 million registered users. The situation is described as highly concerning.
Risk of PTSD remains highRead More »
As the world began to open up after the pandemic and the resulting lockdown, employees showed significant improvement in their mental health, but now they are suffering from the lingering effects of the pandemic, Mund explains.
Turned down in March
The downturn was noticed in March when the increased risk for PTSD took a turn for the worse. Before then, in January and early February, a time of improvement had been observed.
The reasons for the increase in PTSD are the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the pandemic combined with the war in Ukraine, the compilers of the index explain.
So much so that the risk for PTSD was up 121% in March compared with the levels that were present before the pandemic hit.
The degree of concentration among workers also dipped and is now hovering around 47% lower than it was before the pandemic. For men, this figure is even worse at 74% higher than in February 2020.
Cause for concern
Although these reactions were not unexpected, they remain a cause for concern, Mund notes.
Workers have become more susceptible to anxiety after going through a period of continuous stress over the last two years, says Michael Thompson, president of the National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions, which partnered with Total Brain in producing the index. This recent turmoil, felt globally and locally, has prompted renewed concern about workers’ wellbeing and mental health, he adds.
Vital tools for employers
Benefit programs and concern for workers wellbeing are vital tools for employers to use as workers try to adapt to changing expectations and environments in the wake of the pandemic, says Margaret Faso, director of Health Care Research and Policy at the HR Policy Association, which also partnered in developing the index.
She suggests that employers should monitor the mental health of their employees in order to innovate and provide the right programs to serve the needs of their workers as quickly as possible.
The reintegration of people into the workplace after so long a time in quarantine also has helped to increase the risk of PTSD, says Daryl Tol, executive president of One Mind at Work, a brain research and mental health non-profit organization. Because of the higher risk, employers should continue to be strongly aware of their workers’ needs, he adds. They should make sure solutions and resources are available to meet those needs with care.
Good news, too
The Mental Health Index also showed that during the time immediately after the December holidays the general anxiety risk dropped 35% and the risk of depressive disorder dropped 37%. Both figures were close to those recorded before the pandemic. Stress also dropped 18% after the December holidays.
In a couple of months after the holidays, however, the risk of PTSD jumped sharply.
The index is based on a weekly random sample of 500 working Americans.
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