As stress and anxiety become a growing concern in the workplace, causing employees stress and employers productivity loss, the demand for mental health counselors is growing in the United States. The anticipated growth rate in related occupations through 2024 is 20%, above average for all occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Workplace Stress by the Numbers
The prevalence of workplace stress in the United States was the focus of a study by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Its findings show that stress and anxiety affect a large population of American workers. Some of the telling findings include:
- 72% of those who say they face daily stress report it interferes with their lives at least moderately
- 40% of people report stress or excessive anxiety is a part of their daily lives
- 28% of people say they’ve suffered from anxiety or panic attacks
- Only about 9% say they’ve been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder
The ADAA also studied the perceived causes of stress and anxiety in the workplace. Study participants reported these sources:
- Managing deadlines 55%
- Handling interpersonal relationships 53%
- Staff management 50%
- Problems and issues that arise at work 49%
Signs of Stress
There are a number of signs that workplace stress is affecting an employee’s daily life. Some of them include:
- Loss of sleep – This is one of the most prevalent symptoms. People lie awake at night worrying about work and then report the next day less-than-their-best. The result is a cycle that perpetuates.
- Change in eating habits – Over or under-eating on rough days can indicate a reaction to stress.
- Substance use/abuse – It is not uncommon for those facing stress to relieve symptoms by smoking, drinking or using other drugs to calm nerves and cope.
- Irritability and mood swings – When stress is high, emotions also may elevate. This is a sign of poor coping.
Why Action Matters
The American Psychology Association reports that job stress has an estimated cost to U.S. businesses that tops $300 billion a year due to loss of productivity, absenteeism, medical, legal and insurance costs – and ultimately turnover.
Meeting the Growing Demand
As the cost of workplace stress mounts, the demand for counselors in a variety of settings is anticipated to keep growing. More than 26,400 new positions are anticipated to open in the field by 2024, according to the BLS.
Mental health counselors are charged with helping others manage and overcome the emotional and mental disorders they face. To enter this field, a degree in psychology, counseling, social work or another related field may be required. Mental health counselors also must meet state licensing requirements.