Skip to main content
One in four Americans consider a career change as pandemic upends professional future

A transformational journey. LifeWorks becomes TELUS Health. Visit our About Us page to learn more.

Corporate / Mental Health / United States

One in four Americans consider a career change as pandemic upends professional future

Morneau Shepell's Mental Health Index™ for November continues to trend below the pre-pandemic benchmark, led by significant anxiety and depression

CHICAGO, December 9, 2020 – Morneau Shepell, a leading provider of total wellbeing, mental health and digital mental health services, today released its monthly Mental Health Index™ report, revealing a consistent trend of negative mental health among Americans for the eighth consecutive month. The findings show that worsening anxiety and depression compounded by extended mental strain continue to impact the mental wellbeing of Americans. 

The Mental Health Index™ score is -7.3, more than one full point below October (-6.2) and continuing the trend of decline from July’s score of -5.1. The score measures the improvement or decline in mental health from the pre-2020 benchmark of 75. The Index also tracks sub-scores against the benchmark, measuring financial risk (6.7), psychological health (1.4), isolation (-7.8), optimism (-7.9), workplace productivity (-8.6), depression (-9.1) and anxiety (-9.6). All sub-scores have worsened since the previous month, with a significant decline in both anxiety and depression (-1.6 points each). Levels of anxiety, depression, work productivity, psychological health and isolation have reached their lowest point since the inception of the Index.

“As news about trials, medical advances and potential plans to administer COVID-19 vaccines begin to dominate the news cycle, the risk of misinformation and information overload is at an all-time high for Americans,” said Stephan Liptrap, president and chief executive officer. “This can be incredibly stressful for employees to navigate in addition to their day-to-day personal and professional lives. Positive employee wellbeing is key to ensuring business continuity, and it is critical that employers continue to offer support and resources to employees during this time.”

The divisive U.S. presidential election also continued to affect Americans’ wellbeing in November, with nearly half (46 percent) of respondents indicating the election has had a negative impact on their mental health. Participation in the election appears to have had a positive impact on Americans’ mental health, as the highest optimism scores in November were observed among individuals who had already voted or had planned to vote (-7.3), compared to those who had not planned to vote (-8.8) and those who had been undecided about voting (-14.6).

Many Americans consider changing careers, despite their employers handling the pandemic well
The pandemic has created both challenges and opportunities for Americans, leading many to consider the future of their personal and professional lives and, in some instances, a change in employment. Overall, 24 percent of respondents indicated that the pandemic has led them to consider a job or career change. Thirty-seven percent of respondents under the age 40 said they are considering a job/career change, compared to only 13 percent of respondents over the age of 50 who indicated the same. Additionally, 19 percent said they are undecided, suggesting a greater proportion of workers may be at risk of turnover.

Since the pandemic started, 15 percent indicated that their view of their employer worsened and 15 percent indicated that it became more positive. The majority of employees (72 percent) believe that their employers are handling health and safety well, compared to only seven percent of employees that believe it’s been poorly handled. Similarly, 68 percent of employees believe their employer is handling the use of technology well, 60 percent of employees believe their employer is handling flexible work hours well and 55 percent of employees believe their employer is handling work-from-home policies well.

“Our Mental Health Index™ shows that Americans are feeling equally positive and negative toward their employers when compared to before the pandemic. While it’s encouraging to see a positive sentiment in some, the negative sentiment is something employers should attend to,” said Paula Allen, global leader, research and total wellbeing. “As employers continue to prioritize employee health and safety during this time, it’s important to remember that these are not the only factors needed to maintain workplace stability and positive culture. Proactive communication, inclusivity through virtual platforms and support for employees’ mental health and wellbeing during this crisis are equally as important and are essential for employees to feel valued.”

Parents concerned about the mental health of both young and adult children
Parents of young children have struggled throughout the pandemic, both when balancing work and children’s education needs while schools were closed, and when navigating health concerns as children returned to the classroom. The most common concerns cited among parents with children under 18 years old are quality of education (46 percent), mental health of their children (42 percent), the physical health of their children (35 percent) and the safety of attending school in person (34 percent). When considering the greatest concern, however, the mental health of children was the top concern (22 percent), followed by quality of education (21 percent). Physical health was the greatest concern for 16 percent.

Parents of older children reported a unique set of concerns regarding the pandemic. The top three most common concerns among respondents with children aged 18 to 30 include the financial impact of the pandemic (46 percent), job opportunities and career impact (37 percent) and mental health (36 percent). When asking about children of any age, a detrimental mental health score was observed by parents whose top concern is their child’s mental health (-19.3 for parents with young children and -14.2 for those with adult children). 

About the Mental Health Index
The monthly Mental Health Index™ by Morneau Shepell was conducted through an online survey from October 25 to November 5, 2020, with 5,000 respondents in the United States. All respondents reside in the United States and were employed within the last six months. The data has been statistically weighted to ensure the regional and gender composition of the sample reflect this population. The Mental Health Index™ is published monthly, beginning April 2020, and compares against benchmark data collected in 2017, 2018 and 2019. The full U.S. report can be found at

About Morneau Shepell
Morneau Shepell is a leading provider of technology-enabled HR services that deliver an integrated approach to employee wellbeing through our cloud-based platform. Our focus is providing world-class solutions to our clients to support the mental, physical, social and financial wellbeing of their people. By improving lives, we improve business. Our approach spans services in employee and family assistance, health and wellness, recognition, pension and benefits administration, retirement consulting, actuarial and investment services. Morneau Shepell employs approximately 6,000 employees who work with some 24,000 client organizations that use our services in 162 countries. For more information, visit


Heather MacDonald
Morneau Shepell

Catherine Snider
Kaiser & Partners