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Americans’ mental health sinks to a 20-year low, poll finds

Americans’ mental health sinks to a 20-year low: More than 25% of US adults say their emotional wellbeing is just ‘fair or poor’ in 2020, poll reveals

  • In November 2020, 76% of Americans said theirm mental health was ‘good’ or excellent’ in an annual Gallup poll 
  • That’s down from 85% last year, and marks the smallest portion of people in the U.S. giving their mental health positive ratings since 2001  
  • Older and wealthier Americans were most likely to rate their mental health more poorly this year than last 
  • Only 1% fewer Democrats said their mental health was at least good when surveyed between November 5 and 19 in 2020, compared to 2019 
  • Five percent more people who attend religious services weekly reported good mental health in 2020 compared to 2019  

The number portion of Americans who rate their mental health as ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ has declined 10 percent amid the pandemic, a new poll reveals.

It’s the worst rating Americans have given their mental health since 2001, when Gallup began conducting its survey.   

Last November, 43 percent of Americans said their mental health and wellbeing were overall ‘excellent,’ according to Gallup’s annual survey. 

But 2020 has not made emotional maintenance easy. 

Amid the lockdowns, hundreds of thousands of coronavirus deaths in the U.S. alone, millions of lost jobs, political divisions and a decimated economy, the share of Americans in ‘excellent’ mental health has plummeted by 18 percent, to just over one-third of people in the U.S.

Nine percent more Americans now rate their mental health as ‘fair’ or ‘poor’ than did in 2019. 

The percentage of Americans that rate their mental health as ‘excellent’ or ‘good’ hit a 20-year low in 2020 with just 76 percent of adults giving their well-being a positive score, Gallup found

Meanwhile, rates of binge-drinking increased by 19 percent for every week that lockdowns dragged on, a separate study from the University of Texas found. 

And wait-times for children brought to ERs for mental health emergencies have been growing longer and longer.

In May, Gallup conducted a separate survey about how Americans saw social distancing measures and how long they could thought they could stick to strict guidelines. 

About three in 10 parents said that their kids were already enduring emotional or mental harms from being kept home from classrooms and learning in the more isolated environments of their homes. 

A third of parents said they could wait ‘as long as necessarily’ and continue to follow social distancing and restriction measures before their children’s mental health suffered. 

Most schools across the nation did reopen this fall, though some have since closed down again (and New York City schools have reopened, closed, and reopened again). 

Closures have been a strain on isolated children and over-stretched parents alike. 

Among the adults polled for the new survey, declines in mental wellbeing were fairly similar across all age groups. 

Physical health has remained much more stable over time

Physical health has remained much more stable over time 

Nine percent fewer of the youngest adults (18-29) and those between ages 50 and 64, said their mental health was ‘excellent’ in 2020 than gave their well-being such high marks in 2019. 

Adults between ages 30 and 49 held steadiest but didn’t fare much better, with the share rating their mental health ‘excellent’ dropping eight percent. 

Over-65s were the hardest hit. In 2019, 44 percent of seniors said they were in ‘excellent’ mental health, compared to just 34 percent in 2020. 

Despite being hard-hit by job losses and business closures in 2020, fewer Americans who make less than $40,000 a year reported they no longer felt their mental health was excellent. 

Twelve percent fewer Americans making $40,000 or more (including those making $100,000 or more) rated their mental health highly in 2020 than they did in 2019. 

Mental health remained most stable from 2019 to 2020 among Democrats (among whom just one percent fewer rated their mental health ‘excellent’ this year) and more people who regularly attend religious services actually said they felt emotionally good this year – a four percent increase over last year. 

Although the promise of a vaccine is just over the horizon now, U.S. health officials including Dr Anthony Fauci continue to warn that there are ‘dark’ days ahead with the winter surge in cases. 

States are already beginning to close businesses and approach lockdown-level restrictions to slow the spread of coronavirus. 

But the new survey suggests the shockwave of mental health issues is already rolling in.