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Poll: COVID-19 Affecting Mental Health of Many Americans

March 30, 2020

A survey from the American Psychiatric Association provides a glimpse into the mental well-being of Americans amid the COVID-19 pandemic: 48% are anxious about the possibility of getting the coronavirus, 40% are anxious about becoming seriously ill or dying from COVID-19, and 62% are anxious about the possibility of a friend or loved one getting the infection.

“In the disruption COVID-19 is causing, everyone needs to make sure they are taking the time to take care of their own physical and mental health, alongside with their families, friends, and work colleagues,” said Saul Levin, MD, MPA, chief executive officer and medical director at the American Psychiatric Association.

“Social isolation can be prevented by taking the time to use social media, letters, or simply the phone to communicate with loved ones and friends, particularly those we haven’t been in touch with over the years as we would have liked. Together, we will get through this.”

Navigating the Emotions of a Pandemic

According to the survey, which was conducted online March 18-19, 2020, with a nationally representative sample of 1,004 US adults, 36% of Americans believe coronavirus is having a serious impact on their mental health, and 59% say it is having a serious impact on their everyday lives. Some 57% are concerned the pandemic will have a serious impact on their finances, 68% worry it will have a long-lasting effect on the economy, and nearly half worry about running out of food, medicine, and/or supplies.

Despite worries over COVID-19, the majority of Americans aren’t reporting significant behavioral impacts. Although 24% report trouble concentrating on other things, just 19% are having difficulty sleeping, 12% are fighting more with a partner or loved ones in their homes, and 8% are increasing their intake of alcohol or other drugs/substances.

Some 68% of Americans feel knowledgeable about coronavirus and preventing its spread, but about a third are concerned about not having access to tests and health care if needed. While 39% feel people are overreacting, almost the same proportion feel people are not overreacting. 

Uncertainty, too, is high. The American Psychiatric Association pointed out that about 1 in 5 Americans feel neutral about a number of issues, such as their understanding of coronavirus and current guidelines, whether people are overreacting, and the current and potential affect of COVID-19 on their health and finances. 

“The poll highlights both the anxiety caused by the pandemic,” Dr. Levin said, “and the need for clear, consistent communications on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

—Jolynn Tumolo

Reference 

New poll: COVID-19 impacting mental well-being: Americans feeling anxious, especially for loved ones; older adults are less anxious [press release]. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association; March 25, 2020.

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