According to the Mental Health Index: U.S. Worker Edition, published on February 19, 2021, there’s positive news on the state of workers’ mental health for the first time in the past year. Powered by Total Brain—a mental health and brain performance self-monitoring and self-care platform—the index shows vast improvements but still causes concern. Stress, negativity, and general anxiety risks have taken a positive turn at the beginning of 2021. Although we’re not out of the woods, experts say, there’s the reason for cautious optimism. By the end of January, employees’ stress and risk of general anxiety dropped down to pre-pandemic levels. Resilience and social connectivity climbed back to positive levels not seen since before February 2020.
Data comparing December 2020 to January 2021 revealed a notable decline in risk of depression (down 30%) and PTSD (down 25%) along with a considerable increase in sustained attention (up 21%). These statistics, while encouraging, belie the mental health crisis that remains. Risk of depression and PTSD and sustained attention levels remain alarmingly worse than before Covid-19:
· Risk of depression is 71% higher than before Covid-19.
· Risk of PTSD is 33% higher than before Covid-19.
“Perhaps it is the hope and optimism that a new year brings, but at last this month’s Mental Health Index offers us some good news,” said Louis Gagnon, CEO of Total Brain. “Unfortunately, employers and employees are not out of the woods yet. While the numbers are very encouraging, the data tells us that there is still a workplace mental health epidemic that cannot be ignored.”
The Mental Health Index: U.S. Worker Edition contains data drawn from a weekly randomized sample of 500 working Americans taken from a larger universe of Total Brain users. The Index is not a survey or a poll. Data is culled from neuroscientific brain assessments using standardized digital tasks and questions from the Total Brain platform. Participants include workers from all walks of life and regions, job levels, occupations, industries, and types of organizations (public vs. private). The brain assessments used to compile the Mental Health Index were taken weekly from February 3 to January 31, 2021.
The Index 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. “The cumulative impact of the Covid environment has been unprecedented on employees and their families,” said Michael Thompson, National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions president and CEO. “The holiday break appears to have played a major role in helping employees to reset and recharge.”
Colleen McHugh, executive vice president of the American Health Policy Institute and strategic advisor for HR Policy Association said, “While this data is encouraging, and there is reason to be more optimistic for the future, America is still facing a major mental health crisis. Large employers hope that this positive trend will endure and that employees continue to take advantage of their ongoing well-being strategies and other employer-sponsored support, such as additional job flexibility, healthy living programs, positive work/life balance initiatives, and increased education and employer support around vaccinations.”
“The trauma of the last year will have long-lasting effects on the mental health of not only employees but their families,” said Garen Staglin, Chairman of One Mind at Work. “It is welcome news to see improvements at the start of the new year, but employers must remain focused on incorporating innovative mental health programs with visible leadership involvement to support the well-being of their workforce. One size does not fit all, especially when it comes to brain health.”