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Mental Health and the Caregiver

Written by O'Connor Professional Group
Published on June 7, 2023

The Mental Health Effects of Caregiving

According to a recent Harvard Business School study titled The Caring Company, 73 percent of all employees have some type of current caregiving responsibility, which extends far beyond childcare and may include caring for an elderly parent, family member, a spouse or loved one with a disability.  On average these employees spend an additional 20 hours a week in their caregiving role leaving many overwhelmed, burned out and depressed.  

Caregiving is not new, however since the pandemic and changing work environment, the impact of navigating these competing roles is more prevalent.  Because nearly 52% of employers do not track data on their employees’ caregiving roles, they may not fully understand how these competing priorities affect their mental health. 

As Employee Benefits News reports, caregivers are 90% more likely than non-caregivers to experience anxiety on a daily basis.  Caregiving in many cases leads to burnout, depression, and poor physical health.  Alongside worries about their loved one, professional roles, demands on time, fears about job performance are also driving diminished mental well-being.  Combined, this leaves little free mental space to focus on self-care.  And in the last three years nearly one-third of workers voluntarily left their jobs to focus on their caregiving responsibilities, according to the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers (RCI).

How to Support Employees Who are Caregivers

Supporting employees who are caregivers is multi-faceted. With a focus on retention and attracting talent, providing supportive resources for employees who must juggle caregiving with work is a must for recruitment.  Fostering a work environment that openly acknowledges the caregiving continuum is essential to mitigating the stressors caregivers hold. Employers can do this by:

  • Promoting a culture which acknowledges caregiving. Offer a Town Hall for an open discussion.  Establishing an employee caregiving resource group.
  • Adding a caregiving question module to employee surveys.
  • Provide psycho-educational presentations on caregiving (e.g., understanding elder care, dementia; early-onset neuro-cognitive disorders; children with disabilities, etc.)
  • Provide confidential one-to-one wellness coaching for the caregiver. Give them space to unpack their concerns, get perspective on their roles and provide strategies for self-care.
  • Review what additional caregiving resources you can offer (long-term care planning and services, legal information around health care directives and rights, caregiver benefits and financial support).
  • Engaging leadership to show support and reduce stigma.

To learn more about how OPG’s Employer Services and Aging Services teams can support your organization, contact Margaret Stone at mstone.employerservices@oconnorpg.com

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