The prolonged stress on Americans created by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic continues to negatively affect their mental and physical health, according to the American Psychological Association’s (APA) latest Stress in America™ poll. The annual survey was conducted online by The Harris Poll on behalf of the APA between February 19-24, 2021, among 3013 adults aged ≥18 years.
In the slides below, find key survey results including the negative mental health impact among essential workers, increased alcohol intake among US adults, how younger adults have fared in the past year, and more.
Majority of adults (61%) reported experiencing undesired weight change since pandemic began:
• 42% said they gained more weight than intended (average amount gained, 29 lbs); 10% said they gained >50 lbs.
• 18% said they lost more weight than intended (average amount lost, 26 lbs).
Adults reported changes in sleep and increased alcohol intake:
• 67% said they are sleeping more (31%) or less (35%) than they wanted to since pandemic began.
• 23% reported drinking more alcohol to cope with stress during the pandemic. This proportion jumps to 52% of adults who are parents with elementary-school aged children (aged 5-7 years).
Physical health has taken a back seat:
• 47% of respondents said they delayed or canceled health care services since pandemic started.
• 53% said they have been less physically active than they wanted to be since pandemic began.
One in 4 essential workers (eg, in health care, law enforcement) (25%) have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder since pandemic began:
• 29% said their mental health has worsened.
• 75% said they could have used more emotional support than they received since the pandemic began.
• Essential workers were more than twice as likely as non-essential workers to have received treatment from a mental health professional (34% vs 12%) and to have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder (25% vs 9%) since pandemic started.
Essential workers struggling with weight, sleep, and alcohol intake:
• 50% of essential workers reported undesired weight gain (average amount, 38 lbs).
• 24% reported undesired weight loss (average amount, 30 lbs).
• 80% reported sleeping more or less than they desired.
• 39% said they have been drinking more alcohol to cope with pandemic stress.
Racial disparities revealed: When asked to rate their stress over the last year related to the pandemic on a scale where 1 means “little or no stress” and 10 means “a great deal of stress:”
• Hispanic adults reported the highest average stress level (6.1), followed by White (5.3), Black (5.3), and Asian (5.2) adults.
• 66% of Black, 65% of Hispanic adults said they could have used more emotional support than they’ve received, vs 55% of White and 50% of Asian adults who said the same.
Hispanic adults most likely to report undesired changes to:
• Sleep: 78% Hispanic vs 76% Black, 63% White, 61% Asian adults
• Exercise levels: 87% Hispanic vs 84% Black, 81% Asian, 79% White adults
• Weight: 71% Hispanic vs 64% Black, 58% White, 54% Asian adults
Black adults most likely to report concern about the future:
• 54% of Black adults said they do NOT feel comfortable going back to living life like they used to before the pandemic, as compared to 48% of Hispanic, 45% of Asian, and 44% of White adults.
• 57% of Black adults said they feel uneasy about adjusting to in-person interaction once the pandemic ends, as compared to 51% of Asian, 50% of Hispanic, and 47% of White adults.
Younger adults continue to struggle: Gen Z adults (aged 18-24 years) were the most likely generation to say that their mental health has worsened vs before the pandemic (46%), followed by Xers (aged 43-56 years) (33%), Millennials (aged 25-42 years) (31%), Boomers (aged 57-75 years) (28%), older adults (aged ≥76 years) (9%).
Gen Z adults (65%) and Millennials (62%) more likely to report feeling very lonely during pandemic than their older counterparts (Xers: 41%, Boomers: 33%, older adults: 20%).
Young adults more likely to say they needed more emotional support:
• Gen Z adults were nearly 4-times as likely as older adults to report they could have used more emotional support than they received.
• Millennials were most likely to have received treatment from a mental health professional (32%) or to have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder (23%).
Reported physical impact on younger adults was significant:
• 74% of Gen Z adults and 70% of Millennials reported unwanted weight changes since pandemic started.
• 52% of Gen Z adults reported undesired weight gain, as did 48% of Millennials.
• Among those who reported undesired weight change: Millennials had highest average amount of weight gained (41 lbs), followed by Gen Z (28 lbs), Xers (21 lbs), and Boomers (16 lbs).