Nearly 41% of U.S. adults reported struggling with their mental health or substance use in late June, according to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The COVID-19 emergency is largely to blame.
The coronavirus has caused unemployment to spike. On top of that, social distancing guidelines and stay-at-home orders have led to more isolation and loneliness around the nation.
The CDC’s most recent Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, conducted June 24 through June 30, details the toll those factors and others have had on the American public.
Of the study’s 5,412 respondents, 31% indicated experiencing anxiety or depression symptoms. For context, that was not the case a year earlier, the study’s authors noted.
“The prevalence of symptoms of anxiety disorder was approximately three times those reported in the second quarter of 2019,” the report said. “And prevalence of depressive disorder was approximately four times that reported in the second quarter of 2019.”
Meanwhile, 13% of respondents started or increased their substance use, and 26% reported experiencing trauma or stress-related disorder symptoms.
Additionally, 11% of those included in the data reported having seriously considered suicide in the 30 days prior to completing the survey.
The coronavirus has taken the greatest toll on younger adults, minorities, essential workers and unpaid adult caregivers, according to the report.
Nearly 75% of respondents between the ages of 18 and 24 reported at least one negative behavioral health symptom. That’s compared to nearly 52% in the age group 25 to 44.
Meanwhile more than 52% of Hispanic respondents, 54% of essential workers and about 67% of adult caregivers reported experiencing one or more adverse mental health symptom.
Suicide ideation statistics were also stark: Nearly 26% of those ages 18 to 25 considered suicide in the past 30 days. Additionally, 19% of Hispanic respondents and 15% of non-Hispanic Black respondents reported suicidal thoughts over the same period.
The authors noted public health intervention is needed to help.
“The public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic should increase intervention and prevention efforts to address associated mental health conditions,” the authors of the report wrote. “Community-level efforts, including health communication strategies, should prioritize young adults, racial/ethnic minorities, essential workers and unpaid adult caregivers.”
Meanwhile, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) urged state and local officials to take the coronavirus’s behavioral health toll into account going forward.
“The best fight we have against these issues is the safe reopening and return to some type of normalcy for Americans,” SAMHSA said in a statement Friday. “With appropriate safety measures in place, the reopening of states and communities will facilitate the improvement in mental health across our nation. We cannot continue to ignore the health consequences for all other conditions in favor of singularly focusing on virus containment.”