CDC Report on Mental Health Highlights the Severity of This COVID-19 Side-Effect

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On August 14, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released the report, Mental Health, Substance Use, and Suicidal Ideation During the COVID-19 Pandemic. The report summarizes results of a survey conducted from June 24-30, 2020, in which over 5,400 U.S. respondents answered questions about their mental health experiences and reactions to the pandemic. Analyses were conducted across a variety of classifications, including gender, age, race/ethnicity, employment status, essential worker status, unpaid adult caregiver status, whether the respondent lived in a rural or urban setting, whether the respondent knew someone that was diagnosed with or died from COVID-19 and whether the respondent was currently receiving treatment for diagnosed depression, anxiety or PTSD.

CDC Report on Mental Health Highlights the Severity of This COVID-19 Side-Effect

Overall, the CDC reports that 40.9% of respondents reported at least one adverse mental health condition. Further broken down, the percent of respondents that reported at least one mental health condition includes the following highlights:

By AgeBy Race/EthnicityBy Employment Status
18-24 years: 74.9%Hispanic: 52.1%Employed: 47.8%
25-44 years: 51.9%Black, non-Hispanic: 44.2%Unemployed: 45.9%
45-64 years: 29.5%Other race, non-Hispanic: 43.8%Essential: 54%
65+ years: 15.1%White, non-Hispanic: 37.8%Nonessential: 41%
Asian, non-Hispanic: 31.9%

Additionally, 13.3% of respondents reported increased substance use to cope with stress related to COVID-19, and 10.7% reported suicidal ideations in the 30 days prior to taking the survey. The prevalence of anxiety symptoms was approximately three times higher than over the same period in 2019.

What many mental health professionals are terming “the next pandemic” or “the third wave” of COVID-19 is already here. Employers and plan sponsors must continually assess the support tools they provide because, over time, all employees or plan participants will be affected, either with their own mental health condition or by serving as a caregiver to someone else (or both). Additionally, as the CDC report underscores, a one-size-fits-all approach to supporting employees will not work. Employees’ mental health experiences will vary by demographic and job function, and each employee may feel differently about accessing care.

If you are unsure of steps you can take in the workplace—either as a benefits professional, manager or peer—please join us for a virtual conference, Mental Health Impact of COVID-19 on Workers and Their Families. Topics include helping supervisors address mental health issues at work and unique considerations for different types of workers, cultures and more. Learn more about this critical event.

Mental Health Impact of COVID-19 on Workers and Their Families

If you or someone you know (e.g., family member, friend, colleague), is currently experiencing a mental health crisis, consider these resources:

Rose Plewa, CEBS
Senior Instructional Designer, Online Learning Department at the International Foundation

Source: Czeisler MÉ, Lane RI, Petrosky E, et al. Mental Health, Substance Use, and Suicidal Ideation During the COVID-19 Pandemic — United States, June 24–30, 2020. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2020;69:1049–1057. DOI:

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