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Almost half of American workers have cried at work

Almost half of American workers have cried at work
[Photo: Volkan Olmez/Unsplash]

Just how stressed is the average American employee? Enough for half to be brought to tears, according to a new study.

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Ginger, an on-demand behavioral health system, released its first annual “Workforce Attitudes Towards Behavioral Health Report” and found some less-than-inspiring trends. The study surveyed 1,200 full-time employees with full employer-provided benefits during a one-year span, focusing on emotional and mental support in the workplace. Highlights include:

  • 83% of surveyed workers said they experience stress on a regular basis, with 16% reporting “extreme stress,” which affects them daily. Those who reported the highest levels of extreme stress? Gen Z, lower-income earners, and those from densely populated areas.
  • 81% say stress impacts their work negatively, with symptoms ranging from anxiety to physical ailments.
  • 48% have cried at work. While women are more inclined to break down in tears over stress, 36% of men also acknowledged crying on the job.
  • 50% missed at least one day of work during the last year because of the stress induced at the office. Gen Z and millennials are more likely to miss more than just one day.

Despite the distressing results, Ginger found that 50% of those surveyed said they are more likely now to get mental health help. This is vital since nearly two-thirds have yet to see an improvement in accessible services from their employer. In fact, 35% pay for behavioral healthcare out of pocket because employer benefits just don’t cut it. Unsurprisingly, the top barriers to seeking treatment remain cost and privacy.

Last month, a joint study between Washington University in St. Louis and Aarhus University in Denmark found that pay-for-performance–prevalent in the United States–negatively impacts the workforce. Researchers studied records covering more than 300,700 full-time employees in 1,309 companies over a 10-year period. Findings show that the number of employees using anxiety and depression medication increased by 5.7%. For workers over the age of 50, it nearly doubled to 8.9% over the base rate.

In translating these findings to American companies, the study predicted this would mean 100,000 more American prescriptions for pay-for-performance workers every year.

Mental health is becoming an increasingly important topic within the U.S. workplace, as one in four employees report persistent stress and excessive anxiety, according to research from the Anxiety Disorders Association of America.

And it’s not just the average employee, but also management and CEOs suffering from stress, exhaustion, and burnout. A University of California San Francisco study showed that 30% of entrepreneurs admit to struggling with depression.

“While it’s encouraging to see that attitudes about behavioral health are changing, it’s clear that there is significantly more work to be done to make care more accessible when and where workers need it,” Russell Glass, CEO of Ginger, said in a statement.

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