SAN FRANCISCO — Poll results released at this year’s APA Annual Meeting shed light on Americans’ anxiety about health, safety and finances and their concerns about discussing mental health issues in the workplace, and the potential negative impacts of social media use.
These findings come from a poll conducted online using surveys, which were collected from a nationally representative sample of 1,005 adults in April, and from similar polls of about 1,000 adults in 2018 and 2017, according to a press release.
About two in three Americans reported being extremely or somewhat anxious about their and their family’s safety, paying bills and their health, according to the polling data.
Overall, the polling results showed the following:
- About one-third (32%) of adults were more anxious in 2019 than in 2018.
- Extreme anxiety about personal and family safety and about paying bills dropped from 46% to 37% and 47% to 33%, respectively, among African Americans in the past year.
- About 70% of young adults were anxious about paying bills or keeping their family safe.
- Three-quarters of adults reported doing something to support their mental health, including talking with friends and family (57%) and receiving professional care (22%).
- About 7% of adults used a mental health app to support their mental health.
“The poll results reinforce the fact that basic needs, such as personal safety or finances, have a large impact on a person’s mental well-being,” immediate past APA President Altha Stewart, MD, said in the release. “We urge anyone who is struggling with anxiety, regardless of the reason, to seek treatment.”
Workplace mental health
About 50% of American workers reported they were comfortable talking about their mental health in the workplace; however, more than 30% feared job-related consequences if they seek mental health care, according to the press release.
Although 70% of workers with benefits knew how to access mental health services and 62% were comfortable accessing services through their employer, more than 25% were unsure how to access mental health care through their employer. In addition, millennials were nearly twice as likely to be comfortable discussing their mental health than baby boomers (62% vs. 32%).
About 75% of workers reported that they would recognize signs of anxiety, depression or other mental illness among their co-workers, and most reported that they would reach out if they showed these signs, according to the release.
Most of the workers surveyed reported that their employers offered some type of mental health resources, but 27% reported that the coverage is not sufficient and 13% were uncertain.
“The extent to which people are willing to reach out and help colleagues is encouraging. However, the continued hesitancy among many to talk about mental health concerns in the workplace is troubling and illustrates the ongoing stigma against mental illness,” Stewart said in the release. “We have work to do to get to the point where people are as comfortable talking about mental health concerns as they are about physical health concerns.”
Social media use
Data from another poll revealed that 38% of American adults saw social media use as harmful to mental health, whereas 45% saw it as having both positive and negative effect on mental health and 5% saw it as having a positive impact.
Overall, 67% of adults reported that social media use was associated with loneliness and social isolation, with millennials more likely to agree with this association than baby boomers (73% vs. 62%). Almost 90% of adults believed that social media activity among children and adolescents was concerning. In addition, 24% of millennials reported using a social media app to support their mental health compared with only 3% of baby boomers.
“These results reflect Americans’ concern with use of social media and its potential negative impacts,” Stewart said in the release. “While social media can have benefits and help keep us connected to friends and family, it’s important for adults, and for children and teens, to balance social media use with other activities and connecting with others in real life.” – by Savannah Demko
American Psychiatric Association. APA Public Opinion Poll. Presented at: APA Annual Meeting; May 18-22, 2019; San Francisco.
Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.