Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Americans Anxious Over Current Events, But Most Rate Their Overall Mental Health as Good

Significant percentages of Americans report feeling anxious about current events at home and abroad—especially inflation, gun violence and the Russia-Ukraine war, according to an APA poll released today.

The findings are from APA’s Healthy Minds Monthly Poll, conducted by Morning Consult between May 27 and 29, 2022. The poll included a nationally representative sample of 2,210 adults.

Nearly 8 in 10 Americans (79%) reported feeling very or somewhat anxious about inflation, while 68% reported anxiety about gun violence and 63% reported anxiety about the Russia-Ukraine War. Smaller but still sizeable percentages said they were very or somewhat anxious about climate change (52%), COVID-19 (49%), the future of reproductive rights (48%), the midterm elections (47%), and the future of LGBTQ+ rights (31%).

“It’s not surprising that Americans find the news anxiety-inducing, given everything we are facing as a country at the moment,” said APA President Rebecca Brendel, M.D., J.D. in an APA news release. “It’s obviously important to stay informed, but from time to time you need to take a break, particularly if you find yourself overwhelmed. Watching repeated scenes of violence in a 24/7 news cycle doesn’t help and can even make symptoms worse.”

These concerns varied by demographic group. For instance, women were more likely than men to report feeling anxious about gun violence, the Russia-Ukraine War, climate change, and the future of reproductive and LGBTQ+ rights. White people were more likely than Black or Hispanic people to report anxiety over inflation, and less likely than those of other ethnicities to report anxiety over gun violence. People who identified as LGBTQ+ (62%) and transgender (61%) were nearly twice as likely as adults overall to say they felt anxious about the future of LGBTQ+ rights.

Despite these specific worries, more than a quarter (26%) of those surveyed rated their overall mental health excellent and 46% rated it as good. Younger adults (aged 18 to 35) were more likely to rate their mental health as fair or poor than older adults, and those with an income under $50,000 were more likely to rate their mental health as fair or poor than those earning more income. About half of LGBTQ+ and transgender adults rated their mental health as fair or poor.

The arrival of summer may help to explain the positive feelings about overall mental health, with large percentages saying aspects of summer would improve their mental health, such as spending time outdoors (71%), taking a vacation (67%), longer amounts of daylight (66%), and attending social gatherings (60%).

For some people though summer brings concerns about body image, and 45% said the summer makes them feel pressured to lose weight or change their body.

“It’s good to see some Americans taking positive emotions from summer traditions, during a time when we really need them,” said APA CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A., in the release. “But it stands out that half want to change their bodies. For some, that may come from being exposed to images of unattainable ideals on traditional and social media. It’s important to monitor your feelings and actions around these issues and if necessary, seek help.”

For related information, see the Psychiatric News Alert “Americans Have Mixed Feelings About Social Media, APA Poll Finds.”

(Image: iStock/akoppo)

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