Program Showcase: Supporting Worker Mental Health

Tasha Patterson@Work


Supporting Worker Mental Health: An Essential Retention Strategy During COVID-19 and Beyond

By Susanne M. Bruyère, PhD, CRC, Director, K. Lisa Yang and Hock E. Tan Institute on Employment and Disability, and Co-Director, Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion, Cornell

Today employers have an increased awareness about the mental health and well-being needs of the workforce across a range of employment sectors and occupations.1 Although employers recognized the importance of employee mental health, mental wellness, work-life balance, and overall workforce morale before the pandemic, these considerations have become even more central during the last two years as employers responded to changes made to how, where, and when employees do their work.

While some employers maintained their operations by transitioning to remote work for all but essential workers, others implemented workplace health and safety measures when front-line work was necessary, and many used a combination of these tactics.

These changes were drastic for some, including the related strain from the financial and public health effects of the pandemic, and have resulted in a renewed focus on enhanced workplace mental health practices that have longer-term best practice implications for employee mental health and well-being.

Some segments of the workforce were more affected by the changes, which merits additional attention. For example, research indicates an increased likelihood of anxiety and/or depression among young people (18 to 29 years old); people with disabilities; women; people whose sexual orientations and gender identities can be defined as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or questioning, and their allies; and those with lower levels of education.2

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