Study: COVID-19 Continues to Strain Employees’ Mental Health Despite Signs of Adaptation

October 23, 2020

The September "Mental Health Index: U.S. Worker Edition" shows that while U.S. workers' ability to focus, make decisions, and complete tasks are improving, they are still at high risk for anxiety and depression.  The risk of generalized anxiety disorder remained the same from August to September, and the risk of depression increased 6%.

Mental health is not a static condition.  While the latest Index, released yesterday, shows that employees’ ability to focus, complete tasks, and make decisions has improved since August, there has been no improvement in the risk of anxiety and depression from August to September.  While there were areas of improvement, likely related to adaptation to a new normal, the ongoing need to adjust to these changes will continue to hamper employees’ abilities to function at a level they were at before the pandemic.

Joint Economic Commission urges additional congressional response:  A report released by the bicameral committee found the health and economic stressors caused by the coronavirus pandemic have led to an “unprecedented mental health crisis.”  The report concludes the pandemic will have a lifelong impact on Americans’ mental health and that any subsequent relief legislation must invest significantly more resources toward behavioral health care. 

Our American Health Policy Institute and the Association are actively engaged in the distribution of the Index in partnership with Total Brain, National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions, and One Mind at Work.  If you are interested in learning more about participating, please contact Colleen McHugh at

Outlook:  Adapting to prolonged stress, anxiety, and feelings of depression results in fluctuations in an employee’s brain capacities, impacting their performance at work and at home.  Assisting employees in balancing these stressors is more important now than ever.  The American Health Policy Institute continues to engage with The Path Forward and policy makers in advocating for evidence-based behavioral health care reform.