Mental health is an integral part of overall wellness, so much so that the United States dedicates an entire month to it every year. The month of May is National Mental Health Awareness Month. It was started by Mental Health America (MHA) in 1949, and this year the focus is on practical tools that can improve mental health, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. Let’s take a look at SingleCare’s mental health survey results that show how Americans are responding psychologically to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Summary of our findings:
To understand how the pandemic has been affecting people’s mental health and well-being, SingleCare surveyed over 1,000 people. Here are the most revealing results:
- 59% of survey participants said that COVID-19 has impacted their mental health
- 48% are concerned that quarantining/sheltering-in-place has affected their mental health
- 36% have experienced weight gain as a result of the pandemic
- 32% of respondents said they’ve sought treatment or take medication for their mental health
- 33% think the cost of therapy/doctor’s appointments is the biggest barrier to mental health care
- 58% have worried that they wouldn’t be able to afford their treatment or medication
59% said that COVID-19 has impacted their mental health
Nearly 6 in 10 survey participants say their mental health has been affected by COVID-19. While only 20% of people said they feel unaffected, most said they feel different in one way or another:
- 29% of participants report feeling lonely
- 35% report feeling depressed
- 37% say they feel isolated
- 48% said they feel anxious
- 49% said they feel stressed out
These results match national data on how COVID-19 is affecting mental health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that the most common reactions to COVID-19 are feeling stressed, guilty, socially isolated, and being concerned about protecting yourself or your loved ones from the virus.
Even if you don’t get COVID-19, it can still affect your mental health and quality of life. There’s no doubt that this global pandemic is changing the way people think and feel.
48% are concerned that coronavirus isolation has affected their mental health
The effects of social isolation on mental wellness have been studied for decades by psychologists. It’s clear that social isolation isn’t healthy for humans, and with COVID-19 putting millions of people into isolation globally, there are sure to be consequences.
Twenty-nine percent of survey respondents reported feeling lonely—a feeling associated with an increased risk for premature mortality. In 2015, one study found that social isolation could increase health risks as much as having an alcohol use disorder or smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Social isolation might have an even greater effect on the quarter of U.S. residents who live alone.
36% have experienced weight gain as a result of COVID-19
It’s worth discussing the mind-body connection as well. While almost half of the respondents are concerned about how coronavirus isolation is affecting their mental health, it can also affect their physical health. The stress hormone cortisol can negatively impact the mind and body. In addition to worsened anxiety or depression, fluctuation in cortisol can also affect blood sugar levels, inflammation, memory, and metabolism.
According to our mental health survey data, weight gain is also a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Thirty-six percent of survey participants say they’ve gained weight during the pandemic. It may be because gyms and outdoor recreation sites are closed or because cortisol can affect metabolism, as mentioned above. Compared to increased anxiety and stress levels, weight gain was the third most common “symptom” of the pandemic that survey participants listed.
The difference in physical activities Americans are participating at this time could also contribute to weight gain. Fewer people reported walking outside, exercising, and getting enough sleep than before the pandemic. More people are watching TV and movies, and trying to socialize via phone calls and video chats. The following are activities our survey respondents reported using to improve their mental health before and during the coronavirus outbreak:
|Activities to improve mental health|
|Activity||Before pandemic||During pandemic|
|Getting enough sleep||32%||24%|
|Spending time alone||24%||20%|
32% of respondents said they’ve sought treatment or take medication for their mental health
If you’re experiencing changes to your mental health because of the coronavirus pandemic or anything else, there are treatments and medications that could help you feel better. It’s always best to speak with a doctor or mental health professional before starting a medication or any treatment, but here are some of the most popular mental health treatments to consider:
Teletherapy is a counseling session done over the phone or by video call. It’s especially relevant during this pandemic because it allows people to get the help they need in the safety and comfort of their own homes while still focusing on the importance of mental health.
Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM)
CAM treats mental health issues with natural treatments and self-care remedies. Medications are often thought of as a last resort after one or more of the following haven’t worked:
- Support groups
- Changes to diet
There are numerous medications that healthcare providers can prescribe to help people who are struggling with their mental health. Here are some prescription drugs you might talk with your healthcare provider about:
33% think the cost of therapy/doctor’s appointments is the biggest barrier to mental healthcare
Fourteen percent think finding the right doctor is a barrier to getting help, and 15% believe there’s a stigma surrounding mental health that keeps people from seeking help when they need it. But a third of survey participants see price as the biggest barrier to mental healthcare.
There’s no doubt that health care in the U.S. can be expensive. One hour of counseling in the U.S. can cost anywhere from $50 to $300 per hour. Some insurance plans will cover the cost of therapy, but some don’t, and many people can’t afford these types of rates.
Medications prescribed for mental health problems can also be expensive, but there are companies like SingleCare that offer discounts on prescriptions. Even though therapy, doctor’s appointments, and medications can be costly, this shouldn’t keep someone from seeking help if they need it.
58% have worried that they wouldn’t be able to afford their treatment or medication
Cost is obviously concerning for people regarding mental health treatments and medications. Thirty-five percent of respondents skipped medications to save money, and 43% skipped treatment appointments to save money.
Medication adherence is always important, but perhaps even more so for people with mental health conditions. Skipping medication could cause symptoms to worsen, and abruptly stopping a medication can cause serious side effects.
To save money on your medications, especially during this economic uncertainty, look for drug coupons like a SingleCare discount card. If you’re worried about going to the pharmacy to pick up your medications, know that many pharmacies offer prescription delivery services. There are also many ways to get help with medical bills, even if you don’t have insurance.
Mental health resources and support
If you feel that your mental health has been affected by COVID-19 or by anything else, help is always available. Here’s a list of helplines and organizations that focus on mental health:
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): 1-800-662-4357
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
- National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
- SingleCare prescription delivery: 1-800-222-2818
This survey was conducted online by SingleCare on April 23, 2020 through SurveyMonkey. It included 1,000 Americans aged 18+. Sex and age were census-balanced to match the population of the U.S.