Workers grapple with new stresses upon returning to the office

A lot is at stake. Estimates show that untreated mental illness can cost businesses up to $300 billion a year, largely due to impacts on productivity, absenteeism, and increased medical and disability, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Russ Glass, CEO of online mental health and wellness platform Headspace Health, said he’s seen a fourfold increase in the use of behavioral health coaching and a fivefold increase in clinical services like therapy and psychiatric help during the pandemic compared to pre-pandemic days. With apps like Ginger and Headspace, the company serves more than 100 million people and 3,500 businesses. Among the main concerns: anxiety about contracting COVID-19 and difficulties in balancing work and private life.

“We haven’t seen it diminish. That level of care just stayed high,” Glass said.

The constant wave of new virus outbreaks did not help.

Francine Yoon, a 24-year-old food scientist at Ajinomoto Health and Nutrition North America in Itasca, Illinois, has been working mostly in person since the pandemic, including at her current job which she started last fall. Yoon said his company has helped alleviate anxiety by doing things like creating empty meeting rooms and offices to create more distance for those who feel any form of anxiety about being away. proximity to colleagues.

But moving in last year with her older parents, both in their early 60s, led to a heightened level of anxiety as she fears passing the virus on to them. She said each wave of new cases creates some anxiety.

“When the cases are low, I feel comfortable and confident that I’m fine and will be fine,” she said. “When power surges happen, I can’t help but get cautious.”

As for Carmona, he is trying to reduce his stress and plans to participate in his office‘s online meditation sessions. He is also considering carpooling to reduce gas costs.

“I’m one of those people who takes it day by day,” he said. “You have to try to keep your stress levels balanced, because you’ll have your brain racing through the ground thinking about things that could go haywire.”

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