September 11, 2023
In 2019, worker mental health represented a salient but relatively uncommon issue for Northern Virginia employers: approximately 11 percent of working adults were experiencing mild anxiety or depression, and 7 percent fell into a clinical range.

During the pandemic, these rates spiked, and have remained high. As of May 2023, over half of the workforce was experiencing some level of anxiety or depression, and a quarter were in the clinical range— requiring some level of treatment or intervention. This research estimates that since 2020, Northern Virginia has lost $8 billion each year in unrealized economic output due to the impaired mental health of its workforce: a quadrupling of losses seen prior to the pandemic.

To date, the economic impact of this phenomenon was implicitly understood but unmeasured. Through a partnership between the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia and the George Mason University Center for Regional Analysis, researchers teamed up to develop a novel method to estimate the impact of worker mental health on productivity and gross regional product. We now know that the Commonwealth of Virginia lost $22 billion in potential gross state product in 2022.

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