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Employee Mental Health Struggles Continue to Increase in U.S.

Many full-time workers in the United States are continuing to struggle with their mental health as a result of the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.  

This was the main finding in the “2020 Behavioral Health Impact Update” conducted by The Standard, which followed up on a previous survey to capture data from after the pandemic began. According to the study, nearly half (46%) of full-time American workers are suffering from mental health issues, up from 39% one year ago.

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Among workers struggling with mental health issues, more than half (55%) report it has been affecting their work since the pandemic began. Nearly one in 10 employees have experienced lower productivity or missed work because of addiction or substance abuse.

Among workers struggling with addiction or substance abuse issues, over one-third (36%) said it has affected their work more since the pandemic began. One in three survey respondents said that half or more of their work time suffers when they are struggling with mental health or substance abuse issues.

“The numbers speak for themselves — it’s critical for companies to offer employee benefits that include more robust and accessible well-being resources that help workers stay healthy and productive,” said Melissa Oliver-Janiak, senior director of Benefits and HR Service Center at The Standard. “These findings support the services we’ve been providing to our own employees and the need for employers to find new, effective and creative ways to support their people through this crisis.”

The effects of the pandemic will continue to be felt by workers and their employers well into the new year as organizations anticipate how remote work and safety protocols might evolve with vaccine rollouts. Along with the rising behavioral health issues confirmed in The Standard’s study, many workers are also experiencing increased pain and musculoskeletal issues due to inadequate work-from-home office set-ups that aren’t ergonomically sound.

“During this prolonged time of uncertainty and stress, employers must approach their well-being offerings holistically,” said Dan Jolivet, workplace possibilities practice consultant at The Standard. “The pandemic is creating a greater risk for comorbidity — co-occurring mental and physical conditions often associated with worse health outcomes and more complex treatment — which, if left without intervention, could be detrimental to an employee’s productivity or require an extended disability leave.”


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