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University of Phoenix College of Doctoral Studies releases whitepaper on workforce mental health

By Sharla Hooper

Dr. Karen Johnson highlights 2022 Career Optimism Index® study findings on employee mental health and opportunities for awareness and utilization of employer resources

University of Phoenix College of Doctoral Studies has released a new whitepaper, “American Workers’ Mental Health and Its Implications in Their Careers,” authored by Karen Johnson, Ed.D., research methodology group leader in the University’s Center for Educational and Instructional Technology Research (CEITR).

The purpose of the whitepaper is to identify mental health needs and the resources available through employers as reported in 2022 University of Phoenix Career Institute® Career Optimism Index® study, including what employees reported about their mental health, the support they need, and whether they believed that support was available from their employers. The findings have implications for employers to better understand mental health needs and awareness of resources by their workforce and contribute to talent retention. 

“We continue to see the reverberation of how the pandemic impacted the mental health of our American workforce,” states Johnson. “Despite the disconnect in employers’ and employees’ perceptions of services offered, both groups overwhelmingly reported interest in and need for continuing mental health resources at a greater rate than before the pandemic. Employers can look at aspects like communication channels and workforce understanding of employee assistance programs to help close this disconnect.” 

In her current role as a University Research Methodologist and previously as a committee chair in the doctoral program, Johnson has helped guide more than 100 students through the dissertation process. She also serves as a reviewer for the College of Doctoral Studies’ student publication workshop. Johnson earned a doctorate in Higher Education from Texas Tech University and completed her Master of Arts in Secondary Education and bachelor’s degree with University of Texas.

Johnson has been a faculty member at the University of Phoenix since 2005.

The full whitepaper is available at the University of Phoenix Career Institute® webpage or as a direct link here


About the College of Doctoral Studies

University of Phoenix’s College of Doctoral Studies focuses on today’s challenging business and organizational needs, from addressing critical social issues to developing solutions to accelerate community building and industry growth. The College’s research program puts students in the center of an effective ecosystem of experts, resources and tools to help prepare them to be a leader in their organization, industry and community. Through this program, students and researchers work with organizations to conduct research that can be applied in the workplace in real time.

About the Career Optimism Index® 

The Career Optimism Index® study is one of the most comprehensive studies of Americans’ personal career perceptions to date. The University of Phoenix Career Institute® will conduct this research annually to provide insights on current workforce trends and to help identify solutions to support and enhance American careers and create equity in the workplace. For the second annual study, more than 5,000 U.S. adults were surveyed about how they feel about their careers at this moment in time, including their concerns, their challenges, and the degree to which they are optimistic about core aspects of their careers and their future. The study was conducted among a diverse, nationally representative, sample of U.S. adults among a robust sample to allow for gender, generational, racial, and socioeconomic differences and includes additional analysis of workers in the top twenty media markets across the country to uncover geographic nuances. This year, the study also explored insights from 500 U.S. employers who are influential or play a critical role in hiring and workplace decisions within a range of departments, company sizes and industries to provide comparison between the workforce and those who hire, train and retain them.

About University of Phoenix 

University of Phoenix is continually innovating to help working adults enhance their careers in a rapidly changing world. Flexible schedules, relevant courses, interactive learning, and Career Services for Life® help students more effectively pursue career and personal aspirations while balancing their busy lives. For more information, visit