Mental Health Awareness Month: Beat that stress!

A new survey shows Millennials and Gen Xers are stressed out, and women are more stressed than men.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. This annual campaign aims to raise awareness for mental illnesses and break the stigma associated with them. When I blogged about Mental Health Awareness Month last May, the focus was on depression in the workplace, which remains a concern.

Since then, the American Psychological Association has released a new survey titled “Stress in America: The State of our Nation.” According to the survey, employees who are Millennials (18-38 years old) and Gen X (39-52 years old) report higher stress levels than any other generation, and Millennials continue to have the highest reported stress of any generation. The stress level of older adults, referred to in the survey as “matures,” is the lowest (3.3 on a scale of 1 to 10).

The survey also uncovered a wider gender gap in stress levels than in years past. According to the survey, in years past women have, on average, reported higher stress levels than men, but the stress levels of both genders generally moved in the same direction over the years. That didn't happen in 2017, though. Men's stress levels declined in 2017, while women's stress levels increased slightly (from 5 on a 10-point scale in 2016 to 5.1 in 2017). 

The APA survey does not focus on workplace issues or workplace triggers, and it is important for employers to keep in mind that other things besides work can cause stress. Many family and personal issues can cause stress that spills over into the workplace. Additionally, some employees may be stressed out about political issues, such as racial divides, immigration issues, or the economy. 

As an employer, you can't possibly eliminate stress, but taking care of employees’ mental health can help with productivity and increased job satisfaction. You should review your corporate wellness programs to see whether the programs would benefit from some updating. You can also get creative -- for example, by offering group yoga over lunch every other month or encouraging employees to download free apps, like MindSpace, that assist with meditation. (Just be careful that your efforts to relieve stress don't create more stress in themselves -- for example, by making employees feel "pressured" to participate, whether they want to or not.) Of course, if your company has the means to do so, it is always a good idea to provide an employee assistance program that can confidentially refer employees to mental health professionals. 

Mental Health Month is a good time for all of us to ask ourselves whether we are doing all right and to seek help if we need it. If you don't have access to an employer hotline or EAP, please try the following contact information below if you are in need of help of any kind:

NAMI Helpline
M-F, 10 AM - 6 PM ET
Text “NAMI” to 741741

Mental Health America Helpline
1-800-273-TALK (8255)
24 hours
Text “MHA” to 741741

Image Credit: From flickr, Creative Commons license, by Firesam!

Diversity, equity, and inclusion has been the bedrock of our firm since we opened over 75 years ago. As we like to say, it is in our DNA. We believe that to foster diverse leadership and urge diversity of thought, we must do what we can to advance the conversation about diversity, equity, inclusion, accessibility, and belonging in the workplace and the communities in which our workplaces thrive. Through our blog, we share our insights from the perspective of both an employer and employee, regarding emerging issues that affect diverse leaders and workforces. We hope you enjoy our tidbits of legal and practical information, wisdom, and humor. Thanks for joining the conversation!


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