HSMA clinic exposes mental health pressure in US tech industry

NEWS - 21ST JULY 2023

Substantial new report from APN demonstrates extent of stress, stigma and substance misuse among American tech leaders

All Points North, a whole-person behavioural health company with a clinic in the Harley Street Medical Area, has published a report on mental health in the US tech industry, revealing high levels of substance misuse, prescription drug use and behavioural health stigma. The report, based on detailed online surveys completed by 501 tech leaders at director level and above in companies with at least 1,000 employees, exposes the mental health impact of artificial intelligence (AI) and a new wave of tech layoffs.

In late 2022, big tech started laying off employees in droves, a trend that continues today. According to APN’s report 77% of tech leaders say their health has been negatively impacted by layoffs. Nearly one in three (31%) worry AI will take their job, and 38% have experienced increased anxiety and/or depression due to the recent layoffs.

As a direct response, 37% of tech firm leaders surveyed say they’ve increased their use of controlled substances, including opioids, stimulants, depressants, hallucinogens, anabolic steroids, marijuana and ketamine, and 32% have increased their alcohol intake. Other notable trends include:


Noah Nordheimer of All Points North

Noah Nordheimer of All Points North

— 22% report using controlled substances at least once a day

— 50% qualified as heavy drinkers, consuming three to seven alcoholic drinks per day

— 51% reported smoking cigarettes or nicotine vapes in the past three months

— Those aged 45 to 54 are the most likely to turn to substances to help cope, with 50% saying they’ve increased controlled substance use and 39% increased their alcohol intake

— 12% have checked into rehab or a detox facility in the past three months.

The data suggests that fear of stigma (36%) or job loss (33%), and being overworked and having lack of time (28%) are holding people back from taking care of their mental health.

“The time is now to destigmatise mental health for the tech worker population and offer lasting solutions before it’s too late,” said Noah Nordheimer, founder and CEO of APN. “Executives are taking measures into their own hands and turning to addictive and unhealthy behaviours to reduce stress, a trend that could have major, lasting implications for the industry and the economy as a whole.”

The new data suggests a trend towards prescription medications with 79% of tech leaders reporting they take prescription medications, either under a doctor’s supervision or otherwise. Painkillers are the most prolific, with nearly half (45%) leaders reporting using drugs like Oxytocin, Vicodin, and other codeine and morphine derivatives in the past three months.

“The opioid crisis taught us how easily prescription medicine can be misused, even when administered by a physician,” said Nordheimer. “At APN, we believe in treating the root causes of mental health disorders, including traumatic experiences. We’ve used emerging treatments to get professionals back to work quickly. Ketamine-assisted treatment, deep TMS, and stellate ganglion block are incredibly effective in treating medication-resistant depression, PTSD, OCD and other mental health issues. Emerging psychedelic treatments also show promise for treating substance use disorders. Employers should embrace education around and promotion of emerging treatments for themselves and their workers to create a healthier culture and stronger industry.”