July 2, 2022

Mental Health – The Overlooked Crisis

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Our human experiences over the past few years have forged connections in ways we never expected. We now share our acquaintance with startling change, as we were all thrust into a state of uncertainty. Some of us experienced fear and grief due to the pandemic, we watched George Floyd lose his life on television, witnessed the increased violence against Asian Americans and transgender women. We were forced to stay home, while some had to provide education, childcare and/or adult care while working full time jobs. We even witnessed the takeover of our Nation’s capital in addition to a host of other things.  These challenging moments have lasting effects that are now challenging us to acknowledge the seriousness of the current mental health crisis. 

According to the World Health Organization, globally, an estimated 264 million people suffer from depression, one of the leading causes of disability, with many of these people also suffering from symptoms of anxiety1. Sadly, many of these people suffer in silence as they desperately try to make it day by day.  The pressure to get back to normal, plagues us. However, this is an illusion. Truth is, normal no longer exists. Most are still trying to make sense of everything while attempting to navigate our daily lives in a safe and healthy manner. However, those suffering may feel alone, and this can often become a source of isolation and despair. “In the first year of the COVID-19 Pandemic, global prevalence of anxiety and depression increased by a massive 25%, according to a scientific brief released by the World Health Organization today.” Sadly, these numbers reflect the individuals who are reported. Yet, there are hundreds of thousands who are not aware that mental health affects how they feel, think, interact with others as well as perform at work or school. Therefore, unable to recognize that they need help or that it is available.

Causes of mental health

Major Depressive Disorder and Anxiety Disorder are the most common forms of mental illness.  These disorders can be caused by biological factors, a family history of mental health problems, and life events (the latter being the most prevalent).  For many, mental health problems caused by life events start in childhood and adolescence. Nevertheless, mental health antagonists are everywhere, and all age groups are experiencing these feelings. We are privy to more information than before, and the level of exposure impacts us in ways that we are not aware of.  It seems to be a cycle that we do not know how to end and unfortunately our quality of life, in all areas, is paying the price. 

The Workplace Can Make You Sick

75% of workers have experienced burnout, with 40% saying they’ve experienced burnout specifically during the pandemic.

Another widespread source of depression and anxiety is workplace burnout. “A recent report from Indeed found that employee burnout is on the rise: 52% of all workers are feeling burned out.”2  Though more employers are offering remote and hybrid work options in the age of the “Great Resignation,” remaining employees are feeling the impact. “61% percent of remote workers and 53% of on-site workers now find it more difficult to “unplug” from work during off-hours.”3 The increased workloads and blurred lines between work and home  often lead to both mental and physical health problems.   

Moreover, emotional tax,  which is defined as 'the heightened experience of being treated differently from peers due to race/ethnicity or gender, triggering adverse effects …”4  is also a cause of workplace burnout.  Members of these groups are typically feeling the need to work harder than their peers to receive recognition. And leading workplace campaigns for diversity, equity and inclusion. As one person describes it, 

Women of Color at work are more likely to be expected to be emotionally vulnerable yet maintain a stable viewpoint so we are respected. This can be exhausting. When our work becomes dependent on us utilizing our trauma or having coworkers ask us questions they feel they have the right to ask, we can easily experience burnout from our jobs.”5

Depression and anxiety, along with other forms of mental health problems, have been taboo topics in most communities. The perceived weakness of admitting something is wrong can heighten the debilitating symptoms. The data shared are not simply numbers. They represent human beings who need to be assisted out of the darkness.  Recognizing and advocating by conducting regular check-ins on family, friends and colleagues can save lives. 

There are many resources available to organizations. Below, Human Resource Executives provides several strategies for assisting employees with their mental health.

  • Organizational Support— Check in with HR departments to learn about accessible mental-health plans.
  • Programs and Benefits— Find out if your organization offers comprehensive benefits that center on mental health.
  • Community Partnerships— Volunteer with community organizations to help others who are trying to cope with mental health issues. This may be helpful for those who desire to find a purpose.
  • National Alliance on Mental Health- 1-800-950-NAMI (6264)


1 https://www.who.int/teams/mental-health-and-substance-use/promotion-prevention/mental-health-in-the-workplace

2 https://everyonesocial.com/blog/employee-burnout-statistics/

3 https://everyonesocial.com/blog/employee-burnout-statistics/

4 https://www.bloomberg.com/company/stories/understanding-the-emotional-tax-on-black-professionals-in-the-workplace/

5 https://theeverymom.com/weight-on-bipoc-at-work-how-to-prevent-burnout/