Why so many Americans are struggling with their mental health: Headspace CEO

It’s no secret that the last few years have had a devastating effect on Americans’ mental health.

The coronavirus pandemic was the trigger, but it’s not the only factor at play. Stock market volatility has affected finances, millions of Americans lost their jobs over the past two years, and global conflict like the Russia-Ukraine war has only added to the pressure.

It’s why Headspace Health CEO Russell Glass is encouraging everyone to consider meditation.

“We think about meditation like we think about brushing our teeth: You don’t brush your teeth because you have a problem, you brush your teeth because you are trying to prevent tooth problems,” Glass said on Yahoo Finance Live (video above). “Meditation can help when you have huge drops in the Dow or you have global pandemics and changes. Being prepared for that by taking care of your brain can work wonders.”

Mia Michelson-Bartlett practices yoga and mindfulness meditation virtually from inside Saint John the Divine on March 25, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Angela Weiss / AFP)

‘A confluence of issues’

Headspace is one of the most popular meditation apps available, and offers guided meditation, sleep meditation, and breathing exercises for every experience and lifestyle. The subscription service costs $12.99 per month or $69.99 per year. Stats show over 14% of U.S. adults have tried meditation and since 2012, the number of those practicing it has tripled.

A separate study found that work-related stress and anxiety jumped nearly 30% from just the end of 2021.

“It’s a confluence of issues,” Glass said. “You’ve got the global pandemic. There’s uncertainty about people’s finances. There’s worry about getting sick. There’s no certainty about: Am I going to have a job six months from now? Am I going to get paid what I was getting paid? Inflation is rampant. There’s a war in Europe. All of these factors affect mental health, and we know that workers are struggling.”

Meditation options available through Headspace. (Photo: Headspace)

Meditation options available through Headspace. (Photo: Headspace)

According to Talkspace, over one-third of workers are contemplating leaving their job due to mental health issues, while 53% are facing some type of burnout. Return-to-office policies are among the most common reasons behind mental health struggles today.

As a result, Glass said, it becomes a business problem as well, which is why executives have to keep it in mind.

He recommended several specific courses of action: Implement a solution that works to help employees’ mental health. That means coaching executives and teaching them how to recognize burnout and knowing how to talk to their employees about it. On top of that, Glass said, is to “destigmatize, talk about it.”

“We’re all human,” Glass said. “We all have these issues. So as executives, as leaders, talking about it helps everybody else talk about it.”

Dave is an anchor for Yahoo Finance Live.

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