Employee health and wellness has become a major concern to many employers as it impacts productivity and business on various levels. Companies are putting in efforts to know the specific employee health and wellness needs, and are working out on strategies to help them manage their health concerns. A lot of research has gone into employee wellness and its related components, and the outcomes reveal mental health issues are a growing concern to many employees and employers.
With the corporate wellness industry working constantly on creating new employee engagement strategies to achieve holistic wellness, there has been an evident improvement in the mental health of many employees in the US. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic situation forcing many changes and uncertainties into the routines, there is a higher risk of mental health issues, including stress, anxiety, and depression.
Total Brain Mental Health Survey
Total Brain, a self-monitoring mental health assessment app platform for healthcare providers and employers put together compiled data from February 2020, in collaboration with One Mind at Work and National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions. The survey results indicated an alarming elevation in the risk of mental health issues in June 2020, compared to the data before the pandemic started.
- There was a 14% rise in stress in June 2020 for an average American employee, compared to February 2020.
- Almost 54% of the working Americans are at risk of developing depressive mood and disorders compared to the pre-COVID data.
- The risk to develop overall anxiety issues increased to 41% in the American employees.
- An average of 49% higher risk of acquiring PTSD was recorded for June 2020 data, of which, men registered a 69% increase. It peaked to 86% in April, compared to the Feb 2020 data.
- Sleep Apnea cases in working Americans increased by 14%.
On the brighter side, there were some positives recorded through the survey too –
- There was a 23% increase in conscious negativity in May 2020, which decreased to 11% in June, indicating an overall improvement. This was because women portrayed lesser negativity in June.
- A 20% fall in general anxiety disorder was recorded for women from May to June. On the other hand, the men’s risk remained at the same level.
- There was a 27% decrease in risk for women showing depressive disorders, whereas there was no change in the risk levels for men.
- Employees above 60 years of age showed a 23% improvement in their feelings and mood, while there was no improvement for the younger people of 20 – 39 years of age.
- Older people were better at planning, while the younger employees showed a 25% decrease in their planning abilities, reflecting in slower task completion.
- Social connectivity increased by 5% since February 2020.
From these outcomes, it was quite evident that the risk of acquiring mental health issues, like stress, anxiety, and depression, was high during the lockdown period when employees were forced to stay back at home, work remotely, and follow social distancing. Furthermore, the fear of the pandemic added to the uncertainties and worries.
Total Brain concluded that – in June 2020, with the businesses reopening, things getting back to normalcy, and people adapting to the changing times and its requirements, there was a considerable fall in the mental health risks. As the summer arrived, the economy reopened and people were accustomed to what they need to do with the COVID situation, work on maintaining good mental health, and there was better positivity.
Despite the employers amending their working policies to accommodate to the upcoming changes, a majority of people in the US and across the globe are falling prey to stress and mental illness. And with the uncertainties creating fear, accompanied by the rebound of the COVID-19 infection, it is only adding to the stress and anxiety.
Although the situation cannot be changed by far, all we can do is take care of ourselves from COVID-19 infection, our holistic wellness and that of our beloved, while working productively. And employers can do their bit to improve employee health and wellness by offering well-suited corporate wellness programs along with wellness challenges that help manage mental health and overall holistic wellness.