Lyra Health, a leading provider of innovative mental health benefits for employers, and theNational Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions (National Alliance), today announced findings from a study of more than 1,200 U.S.-based employees who receive health insurance through their employer.
The June study, “The American Worker in Crisis,” set out to determine exactly how both the coronavirus pandemic and the nationwide racial justice movement have affected the American workforce’s mental well-being.
According to the data, 83 percent of American workers are experiencing mental health problems and are almost equally impacted by both the pandemic and the racial justice movement. Meanwhile, 40 percent don’t believe their employer cares about their mental health, beyond just being productive at their job. The research also found that amid all of the uncertainty and work disruption, employees who don’t believe their employer supports their mental health are almost twice as likely to be considering a career change.
“The findings of the study are eye-opening — including the fact that many of these employees have struggled to access mental health treatment, with only 14 percent stating that they have spoken to a mental health professional during this time of turmoil,” said Joe Grasso, Ph.D., Clinical Director of Partnerships at Lyra Health. “What this research surfaces is that while some employers are stepping up to support their people amid the pandemic and racial justice movement, much more needs to be done to make quality mental health care accessible today for America’s workforce.”
Alarming Number of Workers in Severe Mental Health Crisis and Experiencing Emotional Instability
The study also points to an increasing body of evidence supporting a recent uptick in severe mental health problems. Approximately 11 percent of respondents have thought about harming themselves or others, which was overwhelmingly driven by those considering self-harm (77 percent). This finding parallels a recent survey of Lyra mental health providers, which found that thoughts of suicide or self-harm surged amid the early days of the pandemic, with 12 percent of individuals registering for care through Lyra indicating thoughts of self-harm or thoughts of suicide — a 33 percent increase from January.
Worry and fear are also pervasive among U.S. workers, with two-thirds stating that they are insecure about their or their family’s future. More so, the study found that 43 percent feel sad, 36 percent feel angry, and 30 percent are experiencing significant levels of anxiety and stress that interfere with their work.
“If ever there were a time for employers to prioritize the mental health of their workforce, it is now,” said Michael Thompson, President and CEO of the National Alliance. “At a time when so many are struggling, employers need to reinforce that the health, safety and well-being of their employees is job one.”
Employers Must Do More to Support Workforce Mental Health
Faced with these unprecedented challenges, many employers are still not providing adequate support for their employees’ mental health. In fact, one in four respondents said their employer does not support their mental health at all, and nearly half stated that their employer had not communicated any message of support related to the pandemic or the racial justice movement.
Furthermore, of those who have sought mental health care, 60 percent paid out of pocket — another roadblock for employees who are in need of mental health care but may be unwilling or unable to pay for this much-needed help during a time of economic uncertainty.
Growing Mental Health Epidemic Has Financial Implications for Workers and Businesses Alike
As the study suggests, the implications of poor mental health on America’s workforce are far-ranging and include the potential for significant financial impact for employees and employers alike. In fact, 38 percent of U.S. workers say their mental health struggles over the last few months are causing them to consider a complete career change, which is driven mostly by those who don’t think their employer supports their mental health.
As workers struggle with issues ranging from financial pressures, relationship stress, and burnout, their ability to focus and be productive is also decreasing. Sixty-five percent of employees reported that mental health issues are directly impacting their ability to work, and 24 percent reported either significant or extreme impacts. In addition, 40 percent feel completely burned out, and 60 percent say that financial stress is negatively impacting mental health.
For more information about “The American Worker in Crisis” study from Lyra Health and the National Alliance and insight on how employers can best support the mental health of their workforce, visit: www.lyrahealth.com/american-worker-in-crisis/.
The study was conducted by independent brand intelligence firm Survata, analyzing data from 1,200 U.S. consumers between June 25 and June 30, 2020.