One Year Later, A New Wave of Pandemic Health Concerns
In the October 2020 report, Stress in AmericaTM 2020: A National Mental Health Crisis, the American Psychological Association issued a warning about the impact of these stressful events on long-term physical and mental health. We warned that Americans faced a second pandemic — one that would persist even after the physical threat of the virus has been addressed. APA’s most recent survey of U.S. adults, conducted in late February 2021 by The Harris Poll, indicates that this is coming to fruition.
Survey responses reveal that physical health may be declining due to an inability to cope in healthy ways with the stresses of the pandemic. Many reported they have gained or lost an undesired amount of weight, are drinking more alcohol to cope with stress and are not getting their desired amount of sleep. This is particularly true of parents, essential workers, young people and people of color. These reported health impacts signal many adults may be having difficulties managing stressors, including grief and trauma, and are likely to lead to significant, long-term individual and societal consequences, including chronic illness and additional strain on the nation’s health care system.
Key survey findings include
- A majority of adults (61%) reported experiencing undesired weight changes since the start of the pandemic, with more than 2 in 5 (42%) saying they gained more weight than they intended. Of this group, adults reported gaining an average of 29 pounds (with a typical gain of 15 pounds, which is the median).
- Two in 3 Americans (67%) said they are sleeping more or less than they wanted to since the pandemic started. Similar proportions reported less (35%) and more (31%) sleep than desired. Nearly 1 in 4 adults (23%) reported drinking more alcohol to cope with their stress during the coronavirus pandemic.
- Nearly half of Americans (47%) said they delayed or canceled health care services since the pandemic started.
- Nearly half of parents (48%) said the level of stress in their life has increased compared with before the pandemic. More than 3 in 5 parents with children who are still home for remote learning (62%) said the same.
- Essential workers were more than twice as likely as those who are not to have received treatment from a mental health professional (34% vs. 12%) and to have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder since the coronavirus pandemic started (25% vs. 9%).
- Black Americans were most likely to report feelings of concern about the future. More than half said they feel uneasy about adjusting to in-person interaction once the pandemic ends (57% vs. 51% Asian, 50% Hispanic and 47% white).
- Gen Z adults (46%) were the most likely generation to say that their mental health has worsened compared with before the pandemic, followed by Xers (33%), Millennials (31%), Boomers (28%) and older adults (9%).
This report elaborates on these findings and proposes strategies to help us navigate this secondary crisis.
Excerpted from “One Year Later, A New Wave of Pandemic Health Concerns” from the American Psychological Association. Read the full post and explore the report, Stress in AmericaTM 2020: A National Mental Health Crisis, on the APA website.
Source: American Psychological Assocation | One Year Later, A New Wave of Pandemic Health Concerns, https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2021/one-year-pandemic-stress | © 2021 American Psychological Association
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