“Never has there been a time in our history when people talked as openly about anxiety, depression, or feelings of hopelessness as they are during the pandemic. Crisis lines are no longer taking calls purely about the symptoms of COVID-19 or how to get tested, but instead are inundated with people asking for help to fight feelings of high anxiety and stress.

 Business leaders know this is an unavoidable component to the immediate health of employees, with many now searching for ways to support the behavioral health of their workforce. Before the pandemic, depression alone was estimated to cost the American economy $210 billion annually, with 50% of that cost shouldered by employers. The World Economic Forum projected that mental health disorders will cost nations $16.3 trillion between 2011 and 2030, which represents a staggering loss in economic output. 

Experts believe the pandemic is likely to produce a tsunami of behavioral health challenges and “deaths of despair” as tens of millions of Americans are added to the unemployment bench with many more expected to join their ranks.  We know from experience with the construction industry, which tops the chart for suicide deaths, that economic insecurity is a leading factor in suicide deaths.  

systematic review of the research suggests the burden of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among persons exposed to human-made and natural disasters is substantial. Large-scale disasters are almost always accompanied by increases in depression, PTSD, substance use disorders, and other mental health conditions, as well as domestic violence, and child abuse.

Despite the grim statistics, there is a reason to be optimistic about the mental health of our country. With everyone so greatly impacted by this global pandemic, stigma seems to be a thing of the past. People are finally talking openly about their anxiety or depression. The question is no longer if you’re struggling, but how badly you’re struggling.”

Read the full article by Patrick Kennedy and Norm Gorin here.

Image: Erin Clark—Boston Globe/Getty Images

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