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Employees Challenged by a Traumatized Workforce Unable to Concentrate; Experts Offer Advice

According to the Mental Health Index: When compared to before COVID-19, PTSD is up 53% and Sustained Attention is down 53%

SAN FRANCISCO and WASHINGTON  October 14, 2021 – Chronic pandemic-induced stress and anxiety have unleashed a nine-month surge in PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). As return to the workplace for many looms large, U.S. employers are faced with a fearful and overwhelmed workforce unable to concentrate. According to the Mental Health Index: U.S. Worker Edition, as risk of PTSD continues to increase month over month, the capacity for sustained attention continues to decline. When compared to before COVID-19, risk of PTSD is up +53%, while the capacity for sustained attention is down 53%.

The Mental Health Index: U.S. Worker Edition, powered by Total Brain, a mental health and brain performance self-monitoring and self-care platform, is distributed in partnership with the National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions, One Mind at Work, and the HR Policy Association and its American Health Policy Institute.

“Employers are being challenged like never before; the far-reaching impacts of the pandemic are testing even our nation’s most seasoned business leaders,” said Louis Gagnon, CEO, Total Brain. “Workers’ focus is being hijacked by intense fear and trauma. It is critically important that employers are prepared to address trauma in the workplace including understanding their role in exacerbating trauma and their power to help alleviate workers’ overwhelming anxiety.”

“As the uncertainties of the ongoing pandemic and the return to the workplace continue to increase stress, anxiety and trauma among employees, it is crucial that employers recognize this trend and develop strategies on how to provide the necessary support for employees’ mental wellbeing,” said Daryl Tol, executive vice president, One Mind at Work.

Advice for Employers

According to experts at One Mind at Work, there are three important steps an employer can take to address trauma.

  • Recognize the multiple dimensions of trauma

 Trauma can stem from individual experiences, in and out of the workplace, as well as stem from a variety of events or incidents. Bringing together a representative strategic planning group on trauma from within the organization can help leaders to understand potential risks and pressures that may exist for different employee types or those working in different locations.

  • Practice traumatic event responses

Scenario planning that helps each person understand their role in the event of a traumatic incident, including when and how their responsibilities will evolve as needs change, allows employers to respond more quickly and effectively while also creating opportunities to consider response gaps.

  • Integrate trauma into mental health conversations

Integrating trauma into information sessions aimed at normalizing mental health discussions make it more likely that employees experiencing distress will be able to recognize and respond to their mental health needs.

Michael Thompson, National Alliance president and CEO, said, “It’s clear that there will be lasting impact on mental health in the workplace due to the pandemic. The prevalence of trauma for employees is real, but so are the improvements in focus and resources by employers to support mental health and wellbeing. On balance we may be better in understanding and supporting mental health as we move forward.”

Colleen McHugh, executive vice president of the American Health Policy Institute and strategic advisor for HR Policy Association, commented, “While the findings of PTSD are alarming, large employers have bolstered their efforts to provide safe, healthy workplaces and increased their benefit offerings including mental and behavioral health care, childcare and flexible work arrangements. Additionally, employers are focused on reducing the stigma and integrating mental health care into their workplace culture. We encourage employees facing increased anxiety, lack of focus, or the PTSD that has affected so many people during this pandemic era, to seek this extra support offered by their employer.”

The full Mental Health Index results can be found here. For additional insights, there will be a complimentary 30-minute webinar on Friday, October 15 at noon Eastern. Register here:

Moving forward, the Mental Health Index: U.S. Worker Edition will be released quarterly. In January 2022, the Mental Health Index will look back at Q4 employee mental health data, trends and influential factors.

To learn more, watch Total Brain Chief Medical Officer Dr. Evian Gordon as he discusses how the Total Brain platform addresses PTSD. For more information about PTSD in the workplace download, Trauma and Mental Health in the Workplace. This white paper is the latest work in the One Mind at Work CHRO Insight Series created in partnership with the SHRM Foundation.

Methodology: The Mental Health Index: U.S. Worker Edition contains data drawn from a weekly randomized sample of 500 working Americans taken from a larger universe of Total Brain users. The Index is NOT a survey or a poll. Data is culled from neuroscientific brain assessments using standardized digital tasks and questions from the Total Brain platform. Participants include workers from all walks of life and regions, job levels, occupations, industries, and types of organizations (public vs. private). The brain assessments used to compile the Mental Health Index were taken weekly from the first week of February 2020 until the week starting September 20, 2021, inclusive. The last two weeks of August 2021 (August 16-29 inclusive) were compared to the last two weeks of September 2021 (September 13-26 inclusive) to evaluate the changes that have occurred in data trends in the last month from August to September 2021. Changes since the pre-pandemic baseline (beginning of February 2020) to the end of September 2021 were also evaluated.

About Total Brain: Total Brain is based in San Francisco and publicly listed in Sydney, AUS (ASX:TTB). Total Brain is a mental health and brain performance self-monitoring and self-care platform that has more than 1M registered users. Benefits for employers and payers include better mental healthcare access, lower costs and higher productivity. Benefits for healthcare providers include improved patient outcomes, tracking of evidence-based outcomes across the continuum of care, and a reduction in clinician fatigue.

About the National Alliance: The National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions (National Alliance) is the only nonprofit, purchaser-led organization with a national and regional structure dedicated to driving health and healthcare value across the country. Its members represent private and public sector, nonprofit, and Taft-Hartley organizations, and more than 45 million Americans spending over $300 billion annually on healthcare.

About One Mind at Work: Launched in 2017, One Mind at Work is a global coalition of leaders from diverse sectors who have joined together with the goal of transforming approaches to mental health and addiction. One Mind at Work now includes more than 90 global employers and 18 research and content partners. The coalition covers more than 8 million people under its charter.

About HR Policy Association: HR Policy Association is the lead organization representing Chief Human Resource Officers at major employers. The Association consists of over 390 of the largest corporations doing business in the United States and globally, and these employers are represented in the organization by their most senior human resource executive. Collectively, their companies employ more than 10 million employees in the United States, over nine percent of the private sector workforce, and 20 million employees worldwide. These senior corporate officers participate in the Association because of their commitment to improving the direction of human resource policy.

About American Health Policy Institute: American Health Policy Institute is a non-partisan non-profit think tank, started by the HR Policy Foundation, that examines the practical implications of health policy changes through the lens of large employers. The Institute examines the challenges employers face in providing health care to their employees and recommends policy solutions to promote the provision of affordable, high-quality, employer-based health care. The Institute serves to provide thought leadership grounded in the practical experience of America’s largest employers. Their mission is to develop impactful strategies to ensure that those purchasing health care are able to not only bend the cost curve, but actually break it, by keeping health care cost inflation in line with general inflation.

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