A new survey by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that almost 41% of respondents are struggling with mental health issues stemming from the coronavirus pandemic – both related to the pandemic itself and the measures put in place to contain it, including physical distancing and stay-at-home orders.
“Markedly elevated prevalences of reported adverse mental and behavioral health conditions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic highlight the broad impact of the pandemic and the need to prevent and treat these conditions,” the study authors wrote.
The findings were reported Thursday in the journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, published by the CDC.
In an online survey of more than 5,400 adults living in the US conducted during the last week of June, 40.9% of respondents reported at least one mental or behavioral health condition:
- 31% said they’d experienced symptoms of anxiety or depression
- 26% said they’d experienced trauma or stressor-related disorder symptoms
- 13% said they’d started or increased substance use
- 11% said they’d seriously considered suicide in the last 30 days
But the mental health issues were not shouldered equally by everyone.
For example, at least one adverse mental or behavioral health symptom was reported by 75% of 18-to-24 year olds, 52% of 25-to-44 year olds, 52% of Hispanics, as well as 54% of essential workers, 67% of unpaid caregivers for adults, and 66% of those with less than a high school diploma. The percentage among those with existing mental health conditions was even higher.
And the percentage of those who reported having seriously considered suicide in the 30 days before completing the survey was significantly higher among respondents age 18-24 (25.5%), Hispanics (18.6%) and Blacks (15.1%), self-reported unpaid caregivers for adults (30.7%), and essential workers (21.7%).
In all, while symptoms of mental or behavioral health conditions varied significantly among subgroups, unpaid caregivers for adults fared the worst.
“Unpaid caregivers for adults, many of whom are currently providing critical aid to persons at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19, had a higher incidence of adverse mental and behavioral health conditions compared with others,” the study authors wrote.
These findings align with previous studies, which found symptoms of anxiety and depressive disorders increased considerably in the US between April and June of 2020, compared with the same period in 2019.
The study authors concluded: “Periodic assessment of mental health, substance use, and suicidal ideation should evaluate the prevalence of psychological distress over time. Addressing mental health disparities and preparing support systems to mitigate mental health consequences as the pandemic evolves will continue to be needed urgently.”