March 19, 2024

TELUS Mental Health Index: Workers under 40 in the US are isolated and lonely resulting in reduced mental health and productivity

Workers who don’t feel valued and respected by their colleagues or supported by their workplace are twice as likely to report that their mental health adversely affects their productivity compared to workers who feel valued and respected

CHICAGO - Today, TELUS Health released its TELUS Mental Health Index (“the Index”) with reports that examine the mental health of employed people in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Europe, Singapore, New Zealand and Australia. The American report highlights that workers under 40 are 70 percent more likely than workers over 50 to lack trusted relationships at work leading to feelings of isolation and as a result of waning social support, inflation, job losses in sectors dominated by younger workers and housing concerns. Additionally, workers who don’t feel valued and respected by their colleagues or supported by their workplace are twice as likely to report that their mental health adversely affects their productivity compared to workers who feel valued and respected.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared loneliness to be a pressing global threat, with the effects of isolation and loneliness now being recognized and compared to well-known health risks such as smoking, obesity and lack of physical activity. In fact, the US surgeon general is saying that its mortality effects are equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

“The Index findings reflect a concerning reality, in particular for our younger workers. It also impacts businesses as loneliness and social isolation negatively impact both health and workplace productivity,” said Paula Allen, Global Leader, Research & Client Insights, TELUS Health. “Rapid societal changes, alongside diminishing social support, are taking their toll. Additionally, there are challenges like inflation, housing affordability and job loss risks that are clear stressors, especially at the start of a person’s career when there is typically less financial stability. Organizations can help by focusing on building a culture of trust, which counters isolation, and highlighting their health, personal and financial programs, which offer crucial support.”

The TELUS Mental Health Index also found:

  • Workers without trusted relationships are more likely to feel isolated, with 46 percent reporting feeling isolated compared to 14 percent of those with trusted relationships.

  • Employees are scared to speak out about workplace concerns: one in three (33 percent) do not believe or are unsure that their workplace is committed to ensuring employees can speak up about concerns without fear of punishment or humiliation.

  • Nearly one in four (22 percent) don’t believe that rewards and recognition at their company are fair and unbiased.

  • Thirteen percent of workers rate the mental health benefits and services provided by their employer as 2 or 1 out of five (poor); this group has mental health scores at least 16 points lower than workers rating 4 or 5 (excellent).

In January 2024, the mental health scores of workers in various regions were:

  • United States: 70.7

  • United Kingdom: 64.7

  • Canada: 63.5

  • Australia: 63.1

  • Singapore: 62.6

  • Europe: 62.0

  • New Zealand: 59.6

The TELUS Mental Health Index is based on a response scoring system that then turns individual responses into point values. Higher point values are associated with better mental health and less mental health risk. Scores between 0 to 49 correspond with distress levels, scores between 50 to 79 correspond with strain levels and scores between 80 to 100 correspond with optimal levels of mental health.

"Creating a supportive and inclusive work environment is not only a responsibility, but also an invaluable opportunity for employers to proactively shape the wellbeing of their teams," said Leigh Wendtland PhD, Clinical Psychologist and Senior Clinical Director, TELUS Health. “With the negative physical and mental impacts of isolation now being discussed more broadly, it would be wise for employers to acknowledge it as a health risk and prioritize meaningful social connections in the workplace to support employee wellbeing. In addition to implementing employee assistance programs and other initiatives to address the mental strain, fostering a healthy and connected workplace environment enables individuals to thrive. This, in turn, leads to improved retention, productivity, engagement and overall better health outcomes."

The January TELUS Mental Health Index includes important findings related to isolation and key psycho-social risks in the workplace. Read the full American TELUS Mental Health Index here.

About the TELUS Mental Health Index
The data for the TELUS Health Mental Health Index was collected through an online survey from January 13, 2024 to January 22, 2024 with 3,000 respondents. 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 reflects this population.

About TELUS Health
TELUS Health is a global healthcare leader providing comprehensive primary and preventive care services and solutions to improve physical, mental and financial wellbeing for employees and families worldwide. With our advanced technology and dedicated team members, including more than 100,000 compassionate health professionals, we are covering more than 70 million lives in 160 countries. We are on a mission to become the most trusted wellbeing company in the world by building the healthiest communities and workplaces on the planet through simplifying access to care and improving the flow of information between care providers, insurers, employers and individuals. For more information please visit:

Media Contact:
Kasey DiLoreto
[email protected]