U.S. workers have become very familiar with the mental strain and stress of the pandemic. Our brain capacities continue to be attacked, and the drawn-out nature of the situation means we’re under constant pressure to adapt and reframe. Fully adapting to COVID-19 is proving to be a challenging process for working Americans, as demonstrated by both negative and positive fluctuations in this month’s Mental Health Index. In the positive column are signs that employee’s ability to focus, complete tasks, and make decisions improved in August. On the other hand, stress, anxiety, and feelings of depression — which had each improved some in recent months — showed no new improvement between August and September. Instead, they remained elevated, as did employees’ risk of depression and general anxiety disorders. Ultimately, the positive and negative mental health fluctuations recorded in September are a reminder that mental health is not a static condition.
Workers are showing pockets of improvement as they gradually adapt to living and working under the strain of COVID-19.
The lack of a resolution to COVID-related threats means workers are stuck in an ongoing chronic state of adaptation — and they are unable to function as well as they did before the pandemic.
In all cases, adapting to the burden of prolonged stress, anxiety, and feelings of depression is bringing about fluctuations in brain capacities that impact Americans’ performance at work.
Workers’ ability to focus and complete tasks improved 28% in September.
Decision making improved 9% since August.
Risk for general anxiety disorder is up 24% in men since August.*
Men’s risk for depression is up 36% since August.*
Risk of PTSD dropped 22% from August to September.*
Only 8% above February, the risk of PTSD is approaching a pre-COVID level.*
*This data changed directionally but does not reflect a statistically significant difference.