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Study analyzes the impact of children’s mental health on the national workforce

As the US economy has undergone rapid and dramatic change, so has America’s workforce. Trending terms, such as “the great resignation” and “end the silence,” have been coined as we seek to better understand workplace challenges across the country. Many contributing factors have been reported to drive these issues, but new research shows that the pediatric mental health crisis is a significant and surprising contributor among working parents in America’s workforce.

In a first of its kind national study conducted by On Our Sleevesthe children’s mental health movement, the “Great Collide” found that employees’ job performance and productivity were negatively affected by their children’s mental health.

Now, in its second iteration, “The Ripple Effect” study of On Our Sleeves found that the mental health of their children remains a concern for the vast majority of working parents, with almost half of all parents reporting that their child’s mental health had been somewhat or extremely disruptive to their ability to function on most days in the past year to work.

“After discovering the impact that children’s mental health has on the national workforce, it was important for us to dig deeper and examine the extent of the impact and look for ways to provide relief to parents and employers. Through this honest conversations can be difficult and new for many parents, but luckily this data points to solutions.”

Marti Bledsoe Post, Executive Director, On Our Sleeves

In addition to day-to-day work disruptions, many working parents reported long-term disruptions in their careers due to their children’s mental health. For working parents who feel like they have been put in a position to choose between their child and their job, the choice is clear – with one-third (32%) of working parents reporting that they have changed or quit their job. during the last two years because of their child’s mental health.

“I quit my job to adjust my schedule and workload around my kids. My kids were suffering and I was too exhausted to come home and address things that were going on. I knew I had to let go of work, because it affected my whole household.” Demetris, a working mother, said.

Furthermore, among parents who still have some concerns and interruptions regarding their child’s mental health, significantly more Black/African American parents (37%) reported changing their work arrangements because of their child’s mental health than only white parents (26% ).

With so many working parents struggling, On Our Sleeves also asked what would help ease the stress they felt and make them more likely to stay with their employer. Many pointed to the need for collaboration with their employers to address the impact of their children’s mental health on their work.

Nearly three-quarters of working parents surveyed said jobs that offered their children mental health benefits and resources were more attractive than jobs that did not.

“We see that caregivers will choose family over work when the mental health needs of their child are involved, and so the American workforce will continue to be affected by pediatric mental health,” says Dr. Ariana Hoet, clinical director of On Our Sleeves and pediatric psychologist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. “Our children are having a difficult time and as a result, so are their caregivers. Equipping caregivers and their employers with resources to address youth mental health is key to our way forward.”

On Our Sleeves pushing for changes across the country. As a national advocate in the youth mental health movement, US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy recently traveled to meet with pediatric behavioral health experts at On Our Sleeves and Nationwide Children’s Hospital to discuss the study and actions being taken now to protect youth mental health.

“We all need to work together to address the youth mental health crisis and improve mental health at work. This research reinforces the fact that youth mental health not only affects children, but also parents, carers and employers,” the US surgeon general dr. Vivek Murthy said. “My Surgeon General’s Advice on Youth Mental Health and Framework on mental health and well-being in the workplace both outline steps employers can take to support the mental health of their employees and their families, recognizing that employers have a role to play as we work to lay the foundation for a healthier nation.”

Striving to provide the best possible work environment for its employees, Nationwide Insurance’s foundation, the Nationwide Foundation, has partnered with On Our Sleeves to help fund this important research. The hope is to raise awareness of the challenges many working parents face and that more companies nationwide will be able to create a safe space for their employees to thrive.

“As business leaders, it is important for us to understand what an employee needs to be successful in the workplace.” said Vinita Clements, Executive Vice President and Head of Human Resources at Nationwide Insurance whose Foundation funded the study. “By fostering a work environment where employees feel comfortable opening up, we are able to provide better support.”


Nationwide Children’s Hospital

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