Parents experiencing high stress levels related to COVID-19, poll shows
Nearly half of parents of children aged younger than 18 years reported high levels of stress related to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to results of a national poll released today by the American Psychological Association.
Much of this stress was associated with the management of children’s online learning, as well as with economic or work concerns.
“For many parents, it can feel overwhelming to face competing demands at home and work along with possible financial challenges during this unprecedented crisis,” Arthur C. Evans Jr., PhD, CEO of the APA, said in a press release. “Children are keen observers and often notice and react to stress or anxiety in their parents, caregivers, peers and community. Parents should prioritize their self-care and try their best to model healthy ways of coping with stress and anxiety.”
The Harris Poll conducted the online survey from April 24 to May 4, and received responses from 3,013 adults aged 18 years or older who live in the U.S.
Results showed 46% of parents reported a high average stress level related to the pandemic. Among adults who don’t have children aged younger than 18 years, 28% reported similarly high levels of stress. Further, 71% of parents reported that managing distance/online learning for their children was a significant stressor.
Basic needs, such as access to housing and food, were a significant source of stress for a greater proportion of parents vs. those without children (70% vs. 44%). Other significant parental stressors included access to health care services (66% vs. 44%) and missing major milestones, including weddings and graduation ceremonies (63% vs. 43%).
Compared with 46% of respondents in APA’s 2019 Stress in America poll who reported the economy as a significant source of stress, 70% of adults reported it as such in the current survey, with current stress levels similar to those observed during the Great Recession. Moreover, 70% of employed adults cited work as a significant stressor, compared with 64% in the 2019 survey.
Communities of color have been disproportionately affected by pandemic-related stress, with people of color more likely than white adults to report significant stressors as a result of the pandemic. Stressors included contracting coronavirus (71% vs. 59%, respectively), meeting basic needs (61% vs. 47%) and access to health care services (59% vs. 46%). Approximately 40% of Hispanic adults reported that their stress level related to the pandemic was between 8 and 10 on a 10-point scale. Hispanic adults were most likely to report constant or frequent pandemic-related stress (37%) compared with white (32%), black (32%), Native American (31%) and Asian (28%) adults.
“The mental health ramifications of the coronavirus pandemic are immense and growing,” Evans said in the release. “We need to prepare for the long-term implications of the collective trauma facing the population. On an individual level, this means looking out for one another, staying connected, keeping active and seeking help when necessary.”
Disclosure: Evans is an employee of the APA.