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In 2020 there was a perfect storm of stress.
All of us witnessed demonstrations and civil unrest, economic uncertainty, unprecedented levels of unemployment, election year acrimony, social isolation, and of course, a global pandemic! These extraordinary events strained coping capabilities and took a great physical and mental toll on a lot of people. Some sources have estimated that 2020 brought about a 50% increase in behavioral health conditions like anxiety disorders, depression, burnout, and insomnia, and with those conditions a dramatic increase in prescription medications aimed at treating them.
The American Hospital Association estimated that nearly 60% of U.S adults with such conditions never received treatment because many communities experienced shortages and waiting lists for therapists. One McKinsey survey found that 90% of surveyed employers felt the COVID-19 crisis was affecting the behavioral health of their workforce. 2020 also brought about an increase in alcohol use and abuse as well as spikes in illegal substance abuse and deaths from overdoses. Because of these trends and others like them, it’s no wonder why many experts have labeled our current situation a mental health crisis.
Effectively addressing the impact of this mental health crisis will require comprehensive strategic actions on the part of many organizations and agencies, including employers. For employers to do it well, Human resources and employee benefits professionals will need to lead the way. To prepare for a challenge of this magnitude, you must first understand the role employers can play in addressing mental health, and how to identify some common signs of poor mental health.
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