Investing in Mental Health to Support Our Workforce

August 19, 2021

While the COVID-19 pandemic has remained a national priority for health and non-health sectors alike, there is a second nation-wide health concern that has been quietly growing – a mental health crisis. Prior to 2020, 1 in 10 adults reported feeling symptoms of anxiety and depression, a number that has now grown to 4 in 10 adults. Additionally, mental health’s cost to the economy is projected to rise to $6 trillion by 2030. Research has found that every dollar invested in treatment generates a four dollar return in productivity, meaning investment in employee mental health and wellness is investment in productivity. While the CARES Act allocated $425 million to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to assist increased demand for mental health treatment, there are still significant and persistent gaps in mental health supports and access to appropriate care.

This briefing examined the burgeoning mental health crisis, partially exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and explored policy options to support increased mental health wellness at work and at home. Panelists outlined recent statistics related to mental health and the role of employers in supporting mental health and wellness, defined current policy and private-sector options for support, and offered insights into how the nation’s mental health impacts our economic performance.

This is the final event in Part I of the Alliance for Health Policy’s 2021 Signature Series focused on health and the economy. See previous events in this series here.


  • Chatrane Birbal, MPA, Vice President, Government Relations, HR Policy Association
  • Jonah C. Cunningham, MPP, Government Relations Manager, Trust for America’s Health
  • Beth McGinty, Director, Center for Mental Health and Addiction Policy Research, and Associate Professor, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health
  • Kana Enomoto, M.A., Senior Expert, McKinsey & Company (moderator)

Presentation: Investing in Mental Health to Support Our Workforce

Event Resources

Key Resources

(listed chronologically, beginning with the most recent)

“Returning to Work: Keys to a Psychologically Safer Workplace.” Coe, E., Cordina, J., Enomoto, K, et al. McKinsey & Company. July 15, 2021. Available here.

“The State of Mental Health in America 2021.” Mental Health America. 2021. Available at

“American Rescue Plan Act of 2021: Highlights for Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Providers.” National Council for Mental Wellbeing. March 2021. Available at

“Mental Health Parity in the US: Have We Made Any Real Progress?” Shana, A. Psychiatric Times. June 17, 2020. Available at

“Both Remote and On-Site Workers are Grappling with Serious Mental Health Consequences of COVID-19.” Kamal, R., Panchal, N., Garfield, R. Kaiser Family Foundation. December 22, 2020. Available at

“Mental Health Matters.” The Lancet Global Health. November 2020. Available at

“Mental Health Policy in the Era of COVID-19.” Goldman, M., Druss, B., Horvitz-Lennon, M., et al. Psychiatric Services. June 10, 2020. Available at

Additional Resources

(listed chronologically, beginning with the most recent)

“1 in 3 People Say Return-to-Office Negatively Impacted their Mental Health.” Liu, J. CNBC. August 3, 2021. Available here.

“How Simone Biles Saved Herself – and Her Teammates – at the Olympics.” Wetzel, D. Yahoo!Sports. July 27, 2021. Available here.

“How HR Leaders Can Stay Ahead on Mental Health Support.” Mayer, C. Human Resource Executive. July 21, 2021. Available at

“Bringing A Positive Lens to Workplace Mental Health.” Staglin, G. Forbes. July 13, 2021. Available at

“Pain in the Nation: Alcohol, Drug, and Suicide Epidemics. Special Feature: COVID-19 and Trauma.” Trust for America’s Health and The Wellbeing Trust. May 2021. Available at

“Mental Health Conditions and Substance Use: Comparing U.S. Needs and Treatment Capacity with Those in Other High-Income Countries.” Tikkanen, R., Fields, K., Williams, R., Abrams, M. The Commonwealth Fund. May 21, 2021. Available at

“The Economic Burden of Adults with Major Depressive Disorder in the United States (2010 and 2018).” Greenberg, P., Fournier, A., Sisitsky, T., et al. Pharmacoeconomics. May 5, 2021. Available at

“Ease HSA Users’ Access to Mental Health Care: Employer Group to Congress.” Bell, A. Think Advisor. April 19, 2021. Available at

“Mental Health Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic: An Update” Kearney, A., Hamel, L., Brodie, M. Kaiser Family Foundation. April 14, 2021. Available at

“Lonely and Stressed: How Working from Home is Affecting Americans’ Mental Health.” Orrel, B. American Enterprise Institute. March 3, 2021. Available at

“Mental Health Innovation is Important for Economic Recovery and Upward Mobility.” Ferenstein, G. Brookings Institution. January 8, 2021. Available here.

“Pandemic-Driven Post-Traumatic Growth for Organizations and Individuals.” Olsen, K., Shanafelt, T., Southwick, S. JAMA. October 8, 2020. Available at

“Addressing the Escalating Psychiatrist Shortage.” Weiner, S. Association of American Medical Colleges. February 12, 2018. Available at 

“The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA).” Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. October 25, 2011. Available at




Chatrane Birbal, MPA
HR Policy Association, Vice President of Government Relations

Kana Enomoto, M.A.
McKinsey & Company, Senor Expert

Jonah C. Cunningham, MPP
Trust for America’s Health, Government Relations Officer

Beth McGinty, Ph.D.
Center for Mental Health and Addiction Policy Research, Director; Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, Associate Professor

Experts and Analysts

Christine Crawford, M.D., MPH
National Alliance on Mental Illnesses, Associate Medical Director

Ken Duckworth, M.D.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Associate Medical Director for Behavioral Health

Dominic Hodgkin, Ph.D.
Brandeis University Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Professor/Health Economist

Gray Norquist, MD, MSPH
Emory University Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Vice-Chair; Grady Behavioral Health Service, Chief


Thomas Clarke, Ph.D., MPH
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, National Mental Health and Substance Use Policy Laboratory, Director

Miriam E. Delphin-Rittmon, Ph.D.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Assistant Secretary

Rachel Levine, M.D.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Assistant Secretary for Health


James Gelfand
The Erisa Industry Committee (ERIC), Senior Vice President of Health Policy

Schroeder Stribling
Mental Health America, President and CEO

Pamela Greenberg
Association for Behavioral Health and Wellness, President and CEO

Benjamin Miller
The Well Being Trust, Chief Strategy Officer

Murray N. Ross, Ph.D.
Kaiser Permanente Institute for Health Policy

Lori Shoaf, J.D., M.A.
Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, Executive Director, Political and External Affairs

Andrew Sperling, J.D., MA
National Alliance on Mental Illness, Director of Legislative Advocacy