Anxiety Now Top Employee Mental Health Issue | INSURICA


Anxiety has reached unprecedented levels among U.S. workers, according to new data, now topping the list as the number one mental health issue impacting the American workforce.

An analysis of over 300,000 mental health cases nationwide showed that nearly one quarter — 24% — sought assistance for anxiety in 2023. That positions anxiety above depression, stress, relationship problems, family issues, addiction, and grief as the most common presenting problems reported by employees.

Just five years ago, anxiety did not even rank among the top five issues. But experts say the series of stressful events in recent years, from the COVID-19 pandemic to inflation, war, and political upheaval, have created a persistent feeling of worry and apprehension.

Surge in Anxiety Driving Increased Absenteeism

Along with anxiety comes a corresponding increase in lost productivity, absenteeism, and higher health costs for employers nationwide.

According to recent research, mental health-related leaves of absence surged 33% from 2022 to 2023. Since 2017, anxiety-driven absences have spiked a staggering 300%.

The lengths of these leaves of absence range from several days to several weeks, contributing to the rising cost of lost productivity.

Women — especially Millennials — are taking the brunt of this burden. Data showed that 69% of anxiety-related leaves in 2023 were taken by female employees. Of those, 33% were Millennial women, followed by 30% Gen X women.

Financial Challenges Exacerbating Crisis

A persistently high cost of living is further elevating workplace anxiety levels. Research found financial concerns to be the number one driver of poor mental health, cited by 45% of respondents.

Employees today are also more likely to experience negative emotions on the job com­pared to pre-pandemic times, including higher stress (+12%) and burnout (+17%).

The prevalence of anxiety, depression, and burnout translates directly to employers’ bot­tom lines. Along with increased absenteeism, companies nationwide are dealing with plum­meting productivity levels, higher healthcare costs, and more.

Healthcare Expenses

In 2013, anxiety disorders were estimated to result in more than $48.72 billion in healthcare costs in the U.S. With the significant in­crease in the prevalence of this issue, this fig­ure has likely skyrocketed. Considering that in global estimate of the cost of anxiety was $6.5 trillion, it’s likely to have risen significantly.

Treatments for conditions related to elevat­ed stress are not cheap. Just a few visits to an outpatient therapist can quickly add up to thou­sands of dollars per employee each year.

Prescription drug costs have also soared 32% between 2021 and 2022 (and have contin­ued to climb), including mental health medica­tions such as antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs. Those costs are frequently passed down to employers through health insurance plans.

Presenteeism Impacting Productivity

Presenteeism — when employees are phys­ically present but not mentally — remains one of the largest contributors to lost productivity stemming from mental health issues.

Up to 80% productivity loss from untreated depression and anxiety often comes in the form of presenteeism. Research confirms mental health conditions contribute more to lost pro­ductivity compared with chronic physical con­ditions like diabetes and arthritis.

Replacing an employee due to anxiety-re­lated issues also comes at a high price. Experts estimate that total turnover costs for a single employee can be as much as a third of their sal­ary or more.

Those replacement costs include hiring temporary workers, lost productivity as the new worker learns the ropes, and more, result­ing in significant hidden expenses.

According to one study, mental health is­sues are costing employers approximately $225 billion per year due to the increased op­erational expenses and healthcare costs caused by decreased productivity and higher employ­ee turnover.

For more Employee Benefits resources, contact INSURICA today.

Copyright © 2024 Smarts Publishing. This is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel or an insurance professional for appropriate advice. 



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