According to the Mental Health Index: Older Workers Show Marked Mental Health Improvements; Workplace Mental Health Initiatives May Be Paying Off

Mental Health Decline Among Ages 20-39 Concerning; 29% Increase in Anxiety

SAN FRANCISCO and WASHINGTON, Sept. 16, 2021 — According to the latest Mental Health Index: U.S. Worker Edition, employer-backed mental health initiatives may be starting to pay off for older workers. When it comes to employees ages 40+, many measures of mental health are now at pre-pandemic levels or better. Employees aged 40-59 are bouncing back after several months of declining mental health. Since June, depressive disorder is down (59%), stress is down (18%) and negativity is down (12%). Data also shows that for employees age 60+, anxiety levels are down (47%) and are now lower than before COVID-19. Further, depression is down (89%) in just the last two months.



older workers.

Conversely, mental health decline among those aged 20-39 is a new concerning trend among an audience that previously showed mental health improvements. This cohort of workers has seen increases in stress (13%), anxiety (29%), conscious negativity bias (8%) and reduced planning capacity (-14%) since June. Additionally, the Mental Health Index also recorded another month of elevated PTSD risk in U.S. workers, up 32% since the start of February 2021 and 50% higher than pre-pandemic. Workers at risk of PTSD face multiple other mental health challenges.


The Mental Health Index: U.S. Worker Edition, powered by Total Brain, a mental health and brain performance self-monitoring and self-care platform, is distributed in partnership with the National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser CoalitionsOne Mind at Work, and the HR Policy Association and its American Health Policy Institute.


“Despite a downward trend in mental health among our nation’s youngest employees, we are heartened by the upward trend among employees ages 40+,” explained Louis Gagnon, CEO, Total Brain. “We have reason to be hopeful, but must remain cautious in our optimism. PTSD continues to be an unrelenting concern. And the uncertainty brought on by the continued surge in the delta variant and breakthrough COVID cases may have the power to reverse positive trends. Now is not the time to walk away from workplace mental health support, but to continue investing in employee mental wellbeing for all ages.”


Colleen McHugh, executive vice president of the American Health Policy Institute and strategic advisor for HR Policy, “Large employers have worked tirelessly to support their employees with creative new initiatives and benefits in an effort to keep them healthy not only physically – but mentally – during this difficult pandemic era. While we are pleased to see data that show some of the positive results of this inventiveness, large employers understand that they must continue to strive for increased flexibility and creative solutions to keep employees safe, engaged and as healthy as possible.”


“Our organizational focus on mental health is paying dividends now as people are adjusting to a more normal and adaptably supportive environment,” said Michael Thompson, National Alliance president and CEO. “The key to sustaining this will be a universal commitment to COVID-19 vaccination as an uncontained delta variant may, in fact, be the biggest threat to our collective mental health and wellbeing.”


“We’re pleased by the promise shown through the improving mental health of employees 40+ and are hopeful that concerted efforts toward employer support and workplace mental health initiatives will continue to have a positive impact across generations, particularly as younger employees still face increasing stress,” said Daryl Tol, executive vice president, One Mind at Work.


The full Mental Health Index results can be found here. For more information and additional insights there will be a complimentary 30-minute webinar on Friday, March 19 at 12 p.m. EST. Register here:


For more information, Encouraging Empathy helps employers understand the science of empathy and how to cultivate it in the workplace. Mental Health in the COVID-19 Era: A Year in Review provides a month-by-month overview of the Mental Health Index data juxtaposed against the state of COVID-19 in the U.S. and around the world. Back to Work: How to Prepare for Five Mental Health Challenges Facing Returning Workers offers keen insights for employers in the process of opening long-shuttered doors.


Methodology: The Mental Health Index: U.S. Worker Edition contains data drawn from a weekly randomized sample of 500 working Americans taken from a larger universe of Total Brain users. The Index is NOT a survey or a poll. Data is culled from neuroscientific brain assessments using standardized digital tasks and questions from the Total Brain platform. Participants include workers from all walks of life and regions, job levels, occupations, industries, and types of organizations (public vs. private). The brain assessments used to compile the Mental Health Index were taken weekly from January 18 to March 31, 2021.


About Total Brain: Total Brain is based in San Francisco and publicly listed in Sydney, AUS (ASX:TTB). Total Brain is a mental health and brain performance self-monitoring and self-care platform that has 1M registered users. Benefits for employers and payers include better mental healthcare access, lower costs and higher productivity.


About the National Alliance: The National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions (National Alliance) is the only nonprofit, purchaser-led organization with a national and regional structure dedicated to driving health and healthcare value across the country. Its members represent private and public sector, nonprofit, and Taft-Hartley organizations, and more than 45 million Americans spending over $300 billion annually on healthcare.


About One Mind: One Mind at Work Launched in 2017, One Mind at Work is a global coalition of leaders from diverse sectors who have joined together with the goal of transforming approaches to mental health and addiction. One Mind at Work now includes more than 90 global employers and 18 research and content partners. The coalition covers more than 8 million people under its charter.


HR Policy Association: HR Policy Association is the lead organization representing Chief Human Resource Officers at major employers. The Association consists of over 390 of the largest corporations doing business in the United States and globally, and these employers are represented in the organization by their most senior human resource executive. Collectively, their companies employ more than 10 million employees in the United States, over nine percent of the private sector workforce, and 20 million employees worldwide. These senior corporate officers participate in the Association because of their commitment to improving the direction of human resource policy.


American Health Policy Institute: American Health Policy Institute is a non-partisan non-profit think tank, started by the HR Policy Foundation, that examines the practical implications of health policy changes through the lens of large employers. The Institute examines the challenges employers face in providing health care to their employees and recommends policy solutions to promote the provision of affordable, high-quality, employer-based health care. The Institute serves to provide thought leadership grounded in the practical experience of America’s largest employers. Their mission is to develop impactful strategies to ensure that those purchasing health care are able to not only bend the cost curve, but actually break it, by keeping health care cost inflation in line with general inflation.


Media Contact:
Kelly Faville
Rocket Social Impact

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