American workers have been resigning at record rates. In 2021, an estimated 47 million of them left their jobs. Low pay, lack of respect in the workplace, issues with child care, and work overload. Workplace experts have branded this the Great Resignation.

Millions have had the opportunity to quit their jobs, but many have not and are just as exhausted, running on fast-depleting psychological resources. The pandemic has heightened, and made more visible, a crisis in wellbeing that may well last for years to come, with potentially dramatic consequences.

Until 1920, the US didn’t have a standardized taxonomy of diseases for monitoring purposes, nor did it collect mental health data. It did, however, record deaths by suicide, which can be taken as a proxy for mental wellbeing. A look at the data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows an increase in suicides just after that pandemic.

Suicide rates declined during the first year, going from 13.9 to 13.5. This is consistent with literature about mental health effects following large-scale crises. The worst impact is usually felt about a year after the disaster, says Aki Nikolaidis, a scientist at the Child Mind Institute.
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