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More than 1 in 10 U.S. adults are unpaid caregivers walking around with active suicidal ideation. What’s more, 32 percent experience active suicidal thoughts while 39 percent experience passive suicidal thoughts.  

While that sinks in, consider: Among 10,444 U.S. adult respondents to the same CDC survey that uncovered the aforementioned statistics about suicide, 70 percent of parents and/or caregivers reported adverse mental health symptoms, 55 percent reported anxiety or depression, 54 percent said COVID-19 induced stress and trauma and 32 percent experienced passive suicidal thoughts.  

“The results are terrible and heartening at the same time,” says Alexandra Drane, CEO and co-founder of ARCHANGELS and one of the study’s authors. “This is heartening because anyone who has been an unpaid caregiver understands this reality, but they think they’re alone. Knowing that other people feel the same way in and of itself is care that is going to help people feel better.”  

That stark reality also creates an opportunity for executives to lead their organizations in addressing the problem by normalizing it, reframing how caregivers are seen and supporting them appropriately — in many cases with existing resources from previous investments.  

The societal perception of a typical unpaid caregiver is a middle-aged woman caring for a parent while simultaneously raising young children of her own. Many caregivers simply identify as a mother, father, son or daughter fulfilling those duties when, in actuality, they are delivering care despite not being a doctor, nurse or clinician. The CDC research, in fact, found that 54 percent of caregivers are men.    

While 50 percent of survey respondents do not know what the term caregiver means, what has become clear are the factors driving adverse mental health scenarios among the population.   

Tom Sullivan

Tom Sullivan brings more than two decades in editing and journalism experience to Health Evolution. Sullivan most recently served as Editor-in-Chief at HIMSS, leading Healthcare IT News, Health Finance, MobiHealthNews. Prior to HIMSS Media, Sullivan was News Editor of IDG’s InfoWorld, directing a dozen reporters’ coverage for the weekly print publication and daily website.