May 2022: National Mental Health Awareness Month

After the last two years of pandemic living, many people are realizing that stress, isolation, and uncertainty have taken a toll on their well-being. This newfound realization has led to an emphasis in addressing mental and emotional health issues within the workforce. 



As mentioned by the Whitehouse Briefing Room: “Proclamation on National Mental Health Awareness Month, 2022:”  


“Even before the pandemic, millions of Americans were experiencing stress, trauma, anxiety, and heightened levels of depression.  The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated those conditions, creating an unprecedented mental health crisis across our country. Communities of color, frontline workers, health care workers, and individuals with eating disorders have been disproportionately impacted. The rate of depression across the country has more than tripled compared to rates in 2019.

Mental health challenges among our youth have also been particularly acute due to disruptions in routines, increased social isolation, and learning loss.  Research has shown that social media plays a central role in increasing mental health challenges among young people — especially young women.  Emergency department visits for attempted suicide among girls in 2021 increased by more than 50% compared to 2020. American Indians, Alaska Natives, Black youth, and LGBTQI+ youth also face a disproportionate risk of suicide.” 



Poor mental health and stress can negatively affect employees in:

  • Job performance and productivity. 
  • Engagement with one’s work. 
  • Communication with coworkers. 
  • Physical capability and daily functioning. 




Mental illnesses such as depression are associated with higher rates of disability and unemployment. 

  • Depression interferes with a person’s ability to complete physical job tasks about 20% of the time and reduces cognitive performance about 35% of the time.  
  • Only 57% of employees who report moderate depression and 40% of those with severe depression, receive treatment to control their symptoms.2  
  • Even after taking other health risks—like smoking and obesity—into account, employees at high risk of depression had the highest health care costs during the 3 years after an initial health risk assessment.3,4 



The Center for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] has an entire website dedicated to information, resources, and free materials on Mental Health in the Workplace.   

Mental Health America (MHA) also offers free materials and communication tools, including a free toolkit called “Back to Basics.” The organization is a nonprofit founded in 1909 that promotes programs and initiatives to promote mental health through advocacy, education, research, and services.  


Sources Cited 

  1. Lerner D, Henke RM. What does research tell us about depression, job performance, and work productivity? J Occup Environ Med. 2008;50(4):401–410.  
  2. Dewa CS, Thompson AH, Jacobs P. The association of treatment of depressive episodes and work productivity. Can J Psychiatry. 2011;56(12):743–750. 
  3. Goetzel RZ, Anderson DR, Whitmer RW, et al.; Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO) Research Committee. The relationship between modifiable health risks and health care expenditures: an analysis of the multi-employer HERO health risk and cost database. J Occup Environ Med. 1998;40(10):843–854.  
  4. Goetzel RZ, Pei X, Tabrizi MJ, et al. Ten modifiable health risk factors are linked to more than one-fifth of employer-employee health care spending. Health Aff. 2012;31(11):2474–2484.