Monday, May 3, 2021

Pandemic Has Taken Toll on Mental Health of Americans, APA Poll Finds

Even as COVID-19 vaccines become more widely available to people across the United States, Americans continue to express concerns about the impact the pandemic has had on their mental health and the mental health of their children, according to the results of an APA poll released on Sunday.

The findings were based on an online survey conducted March 26 to April 5 of 1,000 adults 18 years and older.

According to the survey, 43% of adults reported that the pandemic has had a serious impact on their mental health, up from 37% in 2020. Adults aged 18 to 29 years were more likely to report the pandemic has had a serious impact on their mental health than those 30 and older.

More than half of adults (53%) with children under 18 in their household said they were concerned about the mental state of their children, and almost half (48%) said the pandemic has caused mental health problems for one or more of their children. Twenty-six percent of parents said they sought or are currently seeking professional mental health help for their children because of the pandemic, and 22% reported they had difficulties scheduling appointments for their children with mental health professionals.

“This poll shows that even as vaccines become more widespread, Americans are still worried about the mental state of their children,” said APA President Jeffrey Geller, M.D., M.P.H., in a news release. “This is a call to action for policymakers, who need to remember that in our COVID-19 recovery, there’s no health without mental health.”

Slightly fewer adults reported that the coronavirus pandemic is affecting their day-to-day life now compared with a year ago; for example, the percentage of adults reporting sleep problems fell from 22% to 19%, and those having difficulties concentrating fell from 20% to 18%. In contrast, the percentage of adults consuming more alcohol or other substances/drugs than normal increased from 14% to 17%. Additionally, 33% of adults reported gaining weight during the pandemic.

“While most people, including most children, will likely adapt and recover well as we emerge from the pandemic, we know from previous research that for some, the mental health impacts of this trauma and distress will continue to have repercussions into the future,” said APA CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A. “We need to be prepared to help those who need it in the coming months and years.”

(Image: iStock/franckreporter)

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