Real Leaders

Many Americans Struggle with Mental Health at Work — You Can Help  

Prioritizing equity and empowerment for entrepreneurs and business owners is a winning formula.

By Dena Trujillo, CEO at Crisis Text Line

As CEO of Crisis Text Line, a 24/7, nationwide, text-based mental health and crisis support service, I regularly uncover interesting insights into our texter’s emotions and experiences. If there’s one key observation I’d like to share with you today, it would be this: 

Right now, many people in the US are feeling stressed about their finances and jobs. 

At Crisis Text Line, we have unique insight into mental health trends across the United States. Each year, we support over a million conversations with texters in need across the country,  more than 3,500 daily. We provide mental health support and crisis intervention 24/7, and so we see mental health trends emerge almost in real time. 

In a new report, we found that 2023 was a year of anxiety and stress for our texters. These were the top issues that they brought to us; over 1 in 3 texters mentioned these topics. The American Psychological Association also reports that Americans are anxious and stressed. Even though people in the U.S. have mostly returned to their routines, many are recovering from the collective trauma of the past few years. 

While there were many stressful events in 2023, when our texters discussed anxiety and stress, they typically focused on issues related to their immediate circumstances: their relationships to their families, friends – and, importantly, stressors in their school and work lives. 

Based on our analysis, many worried about their work, paying the bills, or being laid off last year. 

2023 was a year of strikes and layoffs – and another year of paying for medical bills, child care, mortgages, and other financial pressure. Your employees, too, might be stressed – in general, or about their future at the company, their performance, their benefits, or their relationships to coworkers. 

If you are leading a company, you are in a powerful position to mitigate stress for employees. Workplaces are a place of centralized policies and communication, which makes them well positioned to make an impact for better mental health. Unfortunately, although employers believe they foster a supportive workplace, US workers feel their companies are falling short of providing the right resources to support their mental health. 

Take a moment this Mental Health Awareness Month to evaluate how you are supporting your employees’ mental health. 

The Milken Institute provides guidance for employers to evaluate gaps and set priorities to make mental health for workers accessible and stigma-free. They suggest that employers focus on three priority areas: psychological safety, stigma, and performance and engagement. We have found that providing volunteer opportunities can contribute to better mental health outcomes. In a recent study of Crisis Text Line volunteers, we found that two thirds of our Crisis Counselors take better care of their mental health as a result of volunteering. 

The expectation for people to simply “get over” their stress and mental health challenges is not only unrealistic but also detrimental to their well-being. By recognizing the importance of mental health, encouraging open dialogue in the workplace, and promoting the value of seeking help, we can create a more supportive and understanding society. Remember, it’s okay to ask for help, and everyone deserves the support they need to thrive.

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