COVID-19 Resource Center
COVID-19 Resource Center
Source:

APA. New APA poll reveals that Americans are increasingly anxious about climate change’s impact on planet, mental health. https://www.psychiatry.org/newsroom/news-releases/climate-poll-2020. Accessed Oct. 21, 2020.
APA. New APA poll shows surge in anxiety among Americans: Top causes are safety, COVID-19, health, gun violence and the upcoming election. https://www.psychiatry.org/newsroom/news-releases/anxiety-poll-2020. Accessed Oct. 21, 2020.


Disclosures: Healio Psychiatry was unable to confirm relevant financial disclosures at time of reporting.

October 21, 2020
3 min read
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APA poll shows 62% of Americans more anxious now vs. this time last year

Source:

APA. New APA poll reveals that Americans are increasingly anxious about climate change’s impact on planet, mental health. https://www.psychiatry.org/newsroom/news-releases/climate-poll-2020. Accessed Oct. 21, 2020.
APA. New APA poll shows surge in anxiety among Americans: Top causes are safety, COVID-19, health, gun violence and the upcoming election. https://www.psychiatry.org/newsroom/news-releases/anxiety-poll-2020. Accessed Oct. 21, 2020.


Disclosures: Healio Psychiatry was unable to confirm relevant financial disclosures at time of reporting.

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Americans are significantly more anxious now compared with this time last year, according to poll results released today by the American Psychiatric Association.

This year, 62% of respondents reported increased anxiety vs. last year, which marks a significant increase over APA polls from the past 3 years. Prior poll results for anxiety ranged from 32% to 39%.

infographic showing anxious person with facemask

“It’s not surprising that more Americans are anxious, given the circumstances we all find ourselves in this year,” Jeffrey Geller, MD, MPH, APA president, said in a press release. “It’s normal to feel this way during times of stress and a lot of people will likely weather this storm without serious mental health consequences. However, given the huge jump in anxiety, coupled with the impact the pandemic is having on those who were already living with mental illness or substance use disorders, the most important thing that we can do as a country is to invest in our mental health system.”

Image of Jeffrey Geller
Jeffrey Geller

Poll results were available for 1,004 U.S. adults. The top reported issues related to anxiety among participants were keeping their families safe (80%), COVID-19 (75%), their health (73%), gun violence (73%) and the upcoming U.S. presidential election (72%).

COVID-19

The APA administered the same survey questions in March and then again in September as part of the overall study. The number of Americans who cited the COVID-19 pandemic as having serious effects on their mental health was almost the same, at 36% in March and 37% in September; however, 12% of Americans reported fighting with their loved ones in March vs. 17% in September, and 8% consumed more substances or alcohol in March vs. 14% in September.

Results also showed that 62% of participants in March reported some level of anxiety regarding the possibility of their loved ones contracting COVID-19 vs. 56% in September, and 48% in March had anxiety regarding contracting the virus themselves vs. 47% in September.

Racial injustices

Following this past summer’s global attention on police killings of Black Americans, health disparities, protests and conversations surrounding systemic racism, 76% of survey respondents strongly or somewhat agreed that systemic racism effects the mental health of Americans, particularly people of color. Moreover, 83% of Black Americans, 78% of Latino or Hispanic Americans, 77% of Asian Americans and 74% of white Americans agreed with this statement.

Over half of all respondents cited systemic racism as strongly or somewhat affecting their own mental health, with 68% of Black Americans, 65% of Latino or Hispanic Americans, 56% of Asian Americans and 51% of white Americans saying so. Among all respondents, 57% said that the current state of law enforcement strongly or somewhat affected their mental health.

“This poll underscores that as the Black community continues to suffer disproportionately from COVID-19, the added effects of ongoing racism and racial trauma is taking a significant toll on both mental and physical health,” Geller said. “The impact of structural inequities on the mental health of the Black community is far reaching, and each of us as psychiatrists has a vital role to play in tackling these issues. On a basic level, we must continue to strive to diversify the ranks of our profession and provide culturally responsive care to our patients.”

Presidential election

Regarding the upcoming presidential election, 57% of respondents said they were more anxious for this one vs. prior contests, and this number was 71% among Democrats, 53% among Republicans and 35% among Independents. Further, more than 60% of respondents said the political effects on daily life were linked to extreme or some anxiety, which increased from 51% in 2019. Approximately half of respondents noted that discussing the election led to extreme or some anxiety.

Saul Levin, MD
Saul Levin

“The contentious political discourse in this country over the past few years is reflected in these poll results,” Saul Levin, MD, MPA, APA CEO and medical director, said in the release. “The politics of the day and this election are causing a great amount of stress among Americans.”

Climate change

Climate change also contributed significantly to anxiety among Americans, with 67% of respondents reporting some or extreme anxiety related to its effects, and 51% saying they were somewhat or extremely anxious about these effects on their own mental health.

“These results are a wake-up call on how climate change not only hurts our environment, but also negatively impacts our mental health,” Geller said. “Psychiatrists and other mental health professionals need to be aware that in addition to the many other concerns in our world today, the impacts of climate change are weighing on the minds of most Americans.”