While the United States continues to grapple with COVID-19, the pandemic is also causing a rise in mental health issues nationwide. Fear of contracting the virus, feelings of uncertainty, economic struggles and the constant wave of alarming news stories are causing stress, anxiety and a host of other mental and emotional challenges.
To quantify the mental health impacts of the pandemic, we conducted a national poll of more than 3,000 patients. The survey confirmed what we suspected: The virus is taking a significant toll on people of all ages and across all regions of the U.S. The survey also showed a high degree of interest in teletherapy, telepsychiatry and teen therapy. Given the massive acceleration of telehealth use amid COVID-19, this, too, was no surprise. In fact, McKinsey reports that telehealth use has skyrocketed among U.S. residents, from just 11% last year to 46% today.
Effects of Pandemic by Age, Gender and Region
Our poll ranked and rated COVID-19 concerns and mental health impacts across numerous population segments including age, gender and area of residence. It revealed several interesting insights about the pandemic – not to mention noteworthy variations among the different groups surveyed.
For example, more than half of all survey respondents report they are experiencing 3-4 mental health concerns as a result of the crisis – like anxiety, depression, loneliness, difficulty sleeping, increased drug and alcohol use, and numerous others. These issues are most pressing among young adults 18-24 and seniors 65+, who cite the highest rates of anxiety and depression.
Among other noteworthy results, women are more likely than men to feel concerned about the disease, and younger Americans ages 18-34 are the most receptive to talk therapy.
By and large, respondents across all age groups expressed concerns about COVID-19. Adults 25-34 and 65+ topped the list with 62% stating they are somewhat or very worried. Among 45-54-year-olds, 51% express worry, and 52-59% of respondents in other age groups reporting they are concerned.
On average, nearly 60% of respondents share that COVID-19 is affecting their mental health. A whopping 65% of adults 18-34 and 65+ say the pandemic is having a minor or major impact. That number drops to 48% among adults 55-64, while 52% of respondents ages 45-54 and 60% of those ages 35-44 report the disease is having an adverse effect.
When it comes to effects of the virus by region, two interesting insights emerged. First, in the Northeast region where COVID-19 first spiked, respondents are 29% more likely to be somewhat or very worried about COVID-19 than respondents in the West. In fact, one in five Northeast respondents shared they are very worried or anxious compared to one in eight very worried Western residents.
When it comes to mental health impacts of the pandemic, the reports don’t follow suit: While respondents in the West are the least concerned about the virus nationally, the mental health impacts are higher in this region than many other parts of the country. Among residents in the West, 55% share the disease is having a major or minor effect on their mental well-being – higher than respondents in the Midwest, Southeast and Southwest. Not surprisingly, Northeasterners top the list in mental health impacts, with reporting the pandemic has had a negative impact.
Women and men are similar in their concerns about the virus, with 57% of women and 46% of men sharing they’re somewhat or very anxious. The gap is slightly wider when it comes to mental health impacts: 59% of women report the pandemic is having a minor or major impact, compared to 44% of men.
The Telebehavioral Health Opportunity
As the pandemic goes on, telehealth continues to provide a convenient, low-cost, highly effective option for care. Individuals can access the behavioral health services they need from a computer or mobile device in the safety, comfort and privacy of their own homes.
MeMD offers comprehensive mental healthcare to businesses and individuals nationwide. Teletherapy, available for adults 18+ and youth ages 10-17, is a proven method for treating a host of mental and emotional health concerns. Using talk therapy, behavioral and psychosocial interventions, our national network of licensed, credentialed therapists help members overcome a wide range of issues.
Telepsychiatry is also available for adults 18 and up. Our psychiatrists and psychiatric nurse practitioners use therapeutic tools like talk therapy alongside appropriate medications to manage many common behavioral health challenges
MeMD’s therapy and psychiatry providers treat a variety of mental health issues, from substance abuse and trauma to marital and family problems, anxiety and depression. Even though these services are in high demand, individuals seeking care can schedule a session in as few as 24 hours.