Mental health issues are on the rise due to COVID

Despite the mindset of some employers that it’s time to get back to the office, going back to business as usual could be detrimental to employee mental health.

The last Mental Health Index by Total Brain and the National Alliance of Healthcare Buyer Coalitions revealed that employees are still struggling with high levels of pandemic PTSD, as well as poor attention spans. The risk of PTSD was 121% higher than pre-pandemic levels, leading to an increased risk of other mental health issues like depression, anxiety and substance use disorders.

While employers (and even some employees) may be eager to return to pre-pandemic norms, they need to exercise caution in order to support workers who may be struggling with these mental health issues.

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“Employees are very vulnerable to uncertainty and change right now,” Total Brain CEO Mathew Mund said in a statement. “The strong correlation between PTSD and other mental health conditions means that the ability of employees and employers to assess and monitor mental health is more important than ever.”

In addition to pandemic-related concerns about safety and reopenings, employees are also grappling with stress associated with current world events, such as the war in Ukraine. These back-to-back stressors further increase the risk of PTSD for employees who may have previously been susceptible.

“Workers have become even more vulnerable after enduring a period of sustained stress over the past two years,” said Michael Thompson, president and CEO of the National Alliance, in the statement. “Recent unrest – nationally and globally – has raised new concerns about their mental health and well-being.”

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The Mental Health Index showed some improvement in depression and anxiety rates. Employees reported a 35% lower risk for general anxiety disorder, as well as a 37% lower risk for depressive disorder compared to 2021 rates.

But employers must continue to be vigilant in supporting employees with policies and benefits that address these concerns. TD Bank, for example, is working to transition its employees to a voluntary hybrid schedule and continues to offer mental health services and ERG support, the bank’s executive vice president of HR told EBN, Jennifer Young. in a previous report.

“What we’re seeing is one anxiety being replaced by another,” Young says. “We just can’t get out of a bad place, and as an employer we try to provide those resources. We base all our decisions on what is good for our customers and our colleagues. Happy employees are engaged employees, and engaged employees produce better work.

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