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Nearly half of U.S. workers suffer from mental health issues since Covid-19 pandemic hit, report finds

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Companies help employees cope with mental health issues during the pandemic

If you're stressed out, anxious or feeling lonely, you are not alone.

Nearly half of American workers have been suffering from mental health issues since the Covid-19 pandemic began, at a significant cost to their well-being and potentially to their employer's bottom line.

There has been a significant jump in full-time U.S. workers dealing with mental health issues in the last 12 months, according to a report from the Portland, Oregon-based insurance company The Standard.

About 46% of the more than 1,400 workers surveyed at the end of last year reported that they were struggling with mental health issues, compared to 39% a year earlier. And more than half of workers — 55% — said a mental health issue has affected them more since the pandemic began.

Yet many may not know where to turn for help. 

"The stigma of mental illness, therapy and mental health at work can keep many employees from using resources," said Dr. George James, a licensed marriage and family therapist and member of the CNBC Financial Wellness Council. "So it has to be driven, encouraged and supported from the top down."

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Workers also may not realize that they are dealing with issues that are impacting workforces around the world.  In another survey of nearly 13,000 employees in 28 countries, including the U.S., the majority of workers said they have experienced increased anxiety around job security and also found changes in their work routine and organization stressful. When working from home, nearly half said they've felt lonely and isolated, according to this report by the World Economic Forum and Ipsos.

Another issue facing many U.S. workers is "the stress of dealing with toxic people, in addition to a pandemic and increased awareness of racial injustice can be overwhelming if not dealt with or supported," Dr. James added "This can increase turnover and reduce productivity." 

 In the WEF report, nearly half of workers globally admitted to reduced productivity during the pandemic. These indirect costs of mental health challenges can come at heft price for employees — and employers. 

Even before the pandemic, research from the World Economic Forum showed the global cost of mental health conditions — including costs related to lost productivity — was about $2.5 trillion in 2010, and it's estimated that will grow to $6 trillion by 2030. 

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Organizations, big and small, are stepping up efforts to address employees' mental health, from offering one-on-one counseling through employee assistance programs to providing access to virtual therapy and meditation apps for free.

Some companies, including energy giant BP, are including questions about employees' mental wellbeing in regular employee surveys to better understand how teams are feeling in real-time.

Starbucks is offering free virtual therapy to address everything from stress and anxiety to depression. Bank of America is providing telemedicine options for behavioral health and access to a free online and mobile mindfulness app to support emotional wellness. 

And for workers looking for help beyond their employer, LinkedIn Learning has courses on supporting your mental health while working from home, dealing with grief loss and change, and having an inclusive mindset. 

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