A little over a year ago, the coronavirus reached the United States, massively affecting its economy, health system, and society. Although the main effects that have been covered by the press have focused on the number of infections, deaths, and the economic impact of the pandemic, it has caused other effects such as the deterioration of mental health of Americans.
As confirmed by the American Psychological Association (APA), the pandemic has affected the mental health of Americans with one in five adults reporting that the coronavirus crisis negatively affected their mental health.
Among the biggest concerns expressed by Americans is, naturally, Covid-19, which 79% of APA respondents say is a source of stress; other causes of stress include the health care system (66%), mass shootings (62%), climate change (55%), the high suicide rate (51%), immigration (47%), sexual assault (47%), and the opioid epidemic (45%).
Impacting the young
The aftermath of the pandemic seems to have especially affected younger Americans, or the so-called “Generation Z”. Indeed, six out of 10 adults (ages 18 to 23) reported in the survey that the pandemic has caused them high levels of stress.
According to APA, while previous generations may be aware that current events “will also pass,” Generation Z adults are just experiencing adulthood at a time of great uncertainty.
The deteriorating mental health of young adults has led to a 62% increase in suicide rates in this population as a result of the pandemic. In addition, another progressive source of stress among young adults has been the perceived growth of sexual harassment, in part caused by the impact of movements such as #MeToo.
Similarly, restrictions on mobility and quarantines imposed by the states have mentally affected a particular group because of their greater need for social contact due to their age.
Children and adolescents have also been severely affected by the closure of public schools. Eighty-one percent of adolescents say that not being able to go to school has had a negative impact on them. They show, for example, less commitment to do homework (52 %), less development of extracurricular and sports activities (49 %), and less concentration in classes (45 %).
Six in ten Americans said in the survey that the economic situation is one of their main sources of stress, a concern that reached the same levels as the 2008 recession, when 69% of adults said they were worried about the economy.
Two in three American adults said money was a source of stress, and more than half reported being financially impacted by the pandemic.
More than 56% of Americans cited job stability as a source of stress during 2020 and 68% reported being negatively affected in their employment by changes imposed by the pandemic. The most common negative impacts among this group were: experiencing a cutback in hours worked (19%), having to balance life between work and home during quarantines (14%), being laid off (14%), and loss of productivity (14%).
Adults in households earning less than $50,000 per year were twice as likely to be laid off during quarantines as adults in households earning more than $50,000 (21% vs. 11%).
About 73% of adults in households earning less than $50,000 per year reported being stressed about money, as opposed to 59% of adults in households earning more than $50,000 per year. On the other hand, 3 out of 5 adults in low-income households also said they were worried about housing prices.