Morneau Shepell, a firm providing cloud-based HR services, conducted a survey in April whose results indicate that the COVID-19 pandemic is significantly impairing America’s mental health. The survey, conducted from April 4th to 9th, consisted of 5,000 responses from U.S. residents who were employed within the past six months.
Compiled into what the firm calls the “Mental Health Index,” the results show “that a significant majority (75 percent) of respondents report the pandemic has had a negative impact on their mental health, while 96 percent of respondents say they have experienced some type of personal disruption.”
Overall, Americans scored 67 on the Mental Health Index, compared to the benchmark of 75. According to a press release announcing the results, that score “places the typical American at the same level as the lowest seventh percent of the standard benchmark, indicating a population in distress.” The main cause of stress was fear of the virus itself affecting the respondent or a respondent’s family member, followed by financial concerns.
The report breaks down American’s current mental health concerns in granular fashion. “Data from April demonstrated significant declines in levels of mental health and ability to cope with notably lower scores for: anxiety (-11.6 points), depression (-10.2 points), optimism (-8.9 points) work productivity (-8.7 points) and isolation (-7.9 points).”
Groups particularly vulnerable to increases in pandemic-induced mental health stress are the recently unemployed, those with three or more children, those who identify as female, and those between 30 and 39 years of age.
States where stress increased the most in April include Washington, North Carolina, Illinois, New York and Virginia. Households with annual incomes between $60 and $100K per year were most at risk of stress-based mental health declines.
If you live in New York State, you can call a toll-free mental health hotline number at: 1-844-863-9314. Additionally, the State has partnered with Headspace, a developer of apps designed to promote mindfulness — an important tool for dealing with stressful situations. In the video below, Headspace co-founder and former Buddhist monk, Andy Puddicombe, explains how it works:
For health care workers and front-line workers needing help coping with stress, New York State has partnered with the Kate Spade Foundation and Crisis Text Line to provide mental health support. Text NYFRONTLINE to 741-741 to find help this way.