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Mental health concerns skyrocket, 75 percent of Americans report negative impact from the pandemic

Women, the recently unemployed and thirtysomethings report the highest stress levels, according to Morneau Shepell’s Mental Health Index

CHICAGO, May 1, 2020 – Morneau Shepell, a North American leader in integrated HR solutions, announced today that Americans are experiencing unprecedented levels of anxiety and depression due to the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic fallout. Morneau Shepell’s new Mental Health Index shows that a significant majority (75 percent) of respondents report the pandemic has had a negative impact on their mental health, while 96 percent of respondents say they have experienced some type of personal disruption. 

The Mental Health Index also shows half of the people experiencing disruption (48 percent) believe that they will be able to cope, while another 27 percent indicate greater concern and uncertainly regarding their ability to cope.  About half of those individuals reported experiencing a very negative impact or crisis. In April, Americans had a mental health score of 67, compared to the benchmark of 75. That places the typical American at the same level as the lowest seventh percent of the standard benchmark, indicating a population in distress. The eight-point drop in mental health is unparalleled during the three-year period in which Morneau Shepell collected benchmark data.

Data from April demonstrated significant declines in levels of mental health and ability to cope with notably lower scores for: anxiety (-11.6 points), depression (-10.2 points), optimism (-8.9 points) work productivity (-8.7 points) and isolation (-7.9 points). Those who were employed within the previous six months but are not currently, those who identify as female, those with three or more children and those between 30-39 years of age reported the largest increases in stress. Similarly, households with annual incomes between $60K to <$100K experienced the greatest stress increases in April compared to other income groups. States registering the highest increases in stress month over month include Washington, North Carolina, Illinois, New York and Virginia.

“While the immediate focus has been on dealing with the physical health and safety concerns surrounding the escalation of COVID-19, this index demonstrates just how deeply Americans’ mental health is being impacted by the pandemic,” said Stephen Liptrap, president and chief executive officer. “Paying attention to the mental health of working Americans is important to quality of life and business productivity. Companies that invest in the mental health of their workforces can help their people recover a sense of well-being and normalcy in their lives as we work together to seek a way forward.”

Finances and fear of losing loved ones remain highest concerns
The Mental Health Index also measured specific concerns and fears related to the pandemic. The most pervasive concerns affecting Americans’ mental health include:

  • the financial impact of the pandemic (53 percent);
  • losing a loved one (44 percent)
  • getting sick (40 percent); and
  • uncertainty around how the virus will impact family and relationships (29 percent).

When people were asked what their “number one” concern was, however, more people indicated fear of a loved one dying, with the financial impact of the pandemic as a close second.

“This research establishes an important national baseline for American workers’ mental health and has direct implications for individuals, employers and governments as we seek to move beyond the pandemic as a society,” said Paula Allen, senior vice president of research, analytics and innovation. “By working together, we can provide mental health support, minimizing the long-term damage and enabling us to bounce back even stronger than before.”

Morneau Shepell will be publishing the Mental Health Index on a monthly basis going forward. It will assess changes in mental health and the issues that Americans are most anxious about as the situation and outlook evolves during and after the pandemic. Morneau Shepell also revealed country-specific data from its Mental Health Index in Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom.

About the Mental Health Index
The monthly survey by Morneau Shepell was conducted from April 4 to April 9, 2020, with 5,000 respondents in total. All respondents reside in the United States and were employed within the last six months. The data has been statistically weighted to ensure the regional and gender composition of the sample reflect this population. The margins of error for the survey are+/- 3.2 per cent, valid 19 times out of 20. The full U.S. report can be found here.

About Morneau Shepell
Morneau Shepell is the leading provider of technology-enabled HR services that deliver an integrated approach to employee well-being through our cloud-based platform. Our focus is providing world-class solutions to our clients to support the mental, physical, social and financial well-being of their people. By improving lives, we improve business. Our approach spans services in employee and family assistance, health and wellness, recognition, pension and benefits administration, retirement consulting, actuarial and investment services. Morneau Shepell employs approximately 6,000 employees who work with some 24,000 client organizations that use our services in 162 countries. For more information, visit morneaushepell.com.

Contact:

Heather MacDonald
Morneau Shepell
media@morneaushepell.com
855-622-3327

Mike Jurs
Allison+Partners
mike.jurs@allisonpr.com
415-875-3050