How has the Pandemic Influenced Employee Mental Health?

Back in 2019 and early 2020, employers were slowly starting to understand the importance of mental health and adopt more mental health-friendly initiatives. Then the pandemic hit and the raging storm that was 2020 began. For a variety of reasons, almost everyone’s mental health suffered, from those who were fortunate enough to work from home to the front line and essential workers. The ensuing mental health pandemic spiked a huge, immediate need for more mental health benefits from employers. 

The current statistics for employees experiencing mental health problems are staggering. According to SilverCloud Health’s 2021 Employee Mental Health and Wellbeing Checkup survey, about two-thirds of American employees “have clinically measurable mental health symptoms of anxiety or depression.”

Effects of Pandemic on Worker’s Mental Health

When it comes to the pandemic and mental health, all workers were affected. Very few were spared the ravages of stress that came with the drastic changes in how we worked and lived. 

  • Essential workers

A third of the U.S. workforce was required to work outside of the home due to being essential workers. These workers are more likely to be Black and also low income. Surveys show that while most workers were experiencing increased anxiety and depression, these essential workers were more likely to be negatively impacted. 

  • Healthcare workers

Research is showing that healthcare workers are paying a high price to perform their jobs during the pandemic. They are at a higher risk of “adverse psychological outcomes” like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), insomnia, and thoughts of suicide. Health care workers are also more at risk of burnout and other negative mental health issues. These issues also affect unpaid caregivers.

  • Remote workers

Remote workers are not exempt from the high-stress levels and adverse mental health impacts caused by the pandemic. They report large amounts of burnout and other mental health issues. Many remote workers found themselves faced with a full-time job and full-time parenting or caregiving duties. This destroyed work-life balance. On the other hand, there is the person who lives alone and is now working remotely, completely cut off from people. This kind of isolation can be quite challenging. 

How Should Organizations Address Mental Health in the Workplace?

There are several opportunities for organizations during the growing mental health pandemic. One is to make a measurable impact on their employees’ lives and well-being by increasing access to mental health services. By doing this, organizations will engender goodwill, loyalty and increase employee morale, all of which support productivity, employees wanting to do their best, and reduced attrition. Offering comprehensive mental health support also makes your organization more competitive when it comes to attracting (and retaining) new talent. According to a recent survey, 76% of workers consider good mental health benefits as crucial when looking for new jobs. 

Here are five ways that organizations can support their employees’ mental health.

  1. Increase coverage for out-of-network mental health services and substance abuse treatments.
  2. Eliminate or decrease the cost-sharing for mental health or substance abuse services.
  3. Increase the number of mental health and substance abuse providers in your insurance plans’ networks.
  4. Develop in-house resources for employees with mental health or substance abuse concerns. 
  5. Increased access to mental health or substance abuse services through telemedicine. 

All of these steps are about increasing access and reducing costs. Many insurance plans offer limited coverage for mental health and substance abuse treatment, which means that out-of-pocket costs for health care can skyrocket. This can be very challenging and increases obstacles to necessary care. And, that’s if employees can find a provider in their network, or at all. The fact that one in four patients has zero access to an in-network therapist, but only one in ten people don’t have access to an in-network medical doctor illustrates the systemic stigma that mental health and substance abuse patients still endure. 

The numbers are in, however, and whatever mental health services are being offered by organizations, employees are taking advantage of them. At companies with 5,000 employees or more, there has been a large increase in employees using mental health services, and 12% of surveyed companies say they’ve seen increased enrollment into mental health programs. 

Support Employee Mental Health with BioFunctional Health (BHS)

Support your employees’ pandemic mental health and increase your employees’ overall health with wellness challenges from BHS. Wellness challenges include fun activities like field days, simple but powerful daily habits challenges, and steps/walking competitions. Physical health and mental health are inextricably linked to each other. And, one of the most effective treatments for anxiety and depression is exercise. We tailor your wellness challenges to the unique needs of your employees. And these wellness challenges won’t just support and increase your employees’ good mental health, but they will inspire them to be better at their jobs. Productivity and loyalty increase when employers actively support their employees’ well-being. Get started today on your journey towards better employee mental health.