The Edelman Trust Barometer provides a wealth of data on trust in institutions across different audiences and demographics. In this Inside Edelman, Giuseppe Bovenzi, Research Coordinator of our Global Intellectual Property team (which is responsible for the development of the Edelman Trust Barometer), emphasizes the need for employers to address the growing needs of people experiencing mental health problems by providing reliable information.
According to the U.S. Census Household Pulse Survey, nearly 37 percent of American adults reported symptoms of anxiety or depression in the first half of March 2021—a striking increase from just 11 percent in 2019. According to the Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report: Trust and the Coronavirus in the U.S. published in March 2021, 14 percent of Americans reported experiencing mental health problems due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Individuals reporting mental health symptoms also reported higher levels of fear: they are not only more fearful about the health and safety impact of the pandemic, but they are also more concerned about job loss with half of respondents worried that the pandemic will accelerate the rate at which companies replace human workers with AI and robots. Adding to that, 49 percent of respondents experiencing mental health problems were very concerned about pandemic-related job loss, which was 14 points higher than respondents that did not report mental health problems.
These concerns are compounded by an information problem: respondents with mental health problems had less confidence in the information they received about the pandemic. In fact, only 34 percent of respondents who experienced pandemic-related mental health problems viewed government as a reliable source of pandemic-related information; business, in general, fared even worse with just 31 percent seeing it as a reliable source.
In contrast, information provided by “My Employer” was seen as reliable by 51 percent of respondents reporting mental health problems. Employers were also far more seen to be trusted to respond effectively and responsibly to the pandemic, with 61 percent trusting employers to do so—compared to only 42 percent who trust either business or government with their pandemic response.
|% of respondents who report pandemic-related mental health problems||My Employer||Business||Govt|
|Is doing well as a reliable source of useful and accurate information about the pandemic||51||31||34|
|Trust each to respond effectively and responsibly to the pandemic||61||42||42|
The Edelman Trust Barometer has shown employers to be highly trusted, and this trust advantage can be leveraged to make a meaningful difference among employees who feel disenfranchised or vulnerable. In fact, 87 percent of respondents who experienced mental health problems wanted to hear from their employer weekly or more on issues related to the pandemic and the vaccine – seven points higher than those not reporting mental health symptoms.
The mental health crisis existed before the pandemic, and it will exist post-pandemic. However, awareness around mental health and the fight to end the stigma surrounding it have never been more important. Employers can make a big difference, acting as a reliable and safe resource for employees suffering from mental health issues. Providing their employees with information and other resources are simple acts that can go a long way in establishing a bond of trust, understanding and recognition that they are not alone in their fight.
For resources and information surrounding mental health, please visit: https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/mental-health-resources/
Giuseppe Bovenzi is research coordinator.