American workers may be unaware of how burned out and depressed they actually are

Robin Utrecht/Getty ImagesOne in five employees says the US is amid a mental health crisis, per a new MetLife survey.
  • A July survey of 2,000 American workers conducted by MetLife found that many people are unaware that they meet the standards for clinical burnout and depression.
  • About one out of every three workers say they’re experiencing burnout. But in reality, the number is significantly higher.
  • When asked if they felt the multiple symptoms of burnout – like feeling emotionally and physically drained, and feeling too much pressure at work – some 64% of employees said “yes.”
  • In addition, many people aren’t getting the help they need, with 37% of respondents saying they fear facing stigma in asking for help.
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Americans are anxious, stressed, and depressed right now. They’re worried about job loss, financial insecurity, having to socially isolate from loved ones, and feeling overworked on the job during the coronavirus pandemic.

Those findings – from a July MetLife survey of 2,000 people – are not exactly surprising. What is worth a double take, however, is the number of Americans who are unaware that they meet the qualifications for clinical burnout and depression.

“Employees have faced unprecedented challenges in their professional and personal lives, which can directly impact one’s mental health and total well-being,” said Susan Podlogar, executive vice president and chief human resources officer at MetLife. “While these issues are magnified in this time of crisis, there are long-term lessons to be learned when it comes to addressing the mental health of today’s workforce.”

For some employees, this is the first time they are experiencing depression or anxiety. These workers may be unaware of the symptoms, MetLife’s survey found.

For example, only about one out of every three workers say they’re experiencing burnout. But when asked if they felt the multiple symptoms of burnout – like feeling emotionally and physically drained, and feeling too much pressure at work –some 64% of employees said “yes.”

In other words, American workers seem to be unaware of just how serious their struggles are.

In addition, 17% of workers reported feeling depressed. But when asked about their symptoms, 41% of workers reported feeling at least five signs of depression, such as having trouble sleeping, feeling down, and losing interest in things.

The vast majority of workers surveyed haven’t ever received support. Only about 26% of employees report having to find help for mental health in the past, and one in 10 are concerned about facing discrimination from a manager for seeking support.

Adding benefits and resources for mental health support are one way companies can help workers. But it is also important for managers to have empathy.

“To help create a supportive environment at work, managers can start by recognising and acknowledgingg the sensitivities and stigmas associated with getting support,” Susan Podlogar, executive vice president and chief human resources officer at MetLife told Business Insider. “Leadership should also lead by example, and share their own experiences with stress, burnout and/or mental health to help create an underlying culture of acceptance and understanding.”

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