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American adults polled express increasing anxiousness—stress, sleep key factors impacting mental health

anxious
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The 2024 results of the American Psychiatric Association's annual mental health poll show that U.S. adults are feeling increasingly anxious. In 2024, 43% of adults say they feel more anxious than they did the previous year, up from 37% in 2023 and 32% in 2022. Adults are particularly anxious about current events (70%)—especially the economy (77%), the 2024 U.S. election (73%), and gun violence (69%).

When asked about a list of lifestyle factors potentially impacting mental health, adults most commonly say stress (53%) and sleep (40%) have the biggest impact on their mental health. Younger adults (18–34 years old) are more likely than older adults (50+) to say social connection has the biggest impact on their mental health.

Despite the increasing anxiety, most adults have not sought professional mental health support. In 2024, just one in four (24%) adults say they talked with a mental health care professional in the past year. Notably, younger adults (18–34) are more than twice as likely as (50+) to have done so.

"Living in a world of constant news of global and local turmoil, some anxiety is natural and expected," said APA President Petros Levounis, M.D., M.A. "But what stands out here is that Americans are reporting more anxious feelings than in past years.

"This increase may be due to the unprecedented exposure that we have to everything that happens in the world around us, or to an increased awareness and reporting of anxiety. Either way, if people have these feelings, they are not alone, and they can seek help from us."

Among adults who have used mental health care this year, more than half prefer to meet with a mental health professional in person (55%) rather than via telehealth; 30% prefer telehealth; and 15% have no preference.

Also among adults who have used mental health care this year, more than half (59%) are worried about losing access to mental health care, and 39% of insured adults are worried about losing their , as a result of the election this year.

Americans perceive broad impacts of untreated mental illness: 83% of adults say it negatively impacts families and 65% say it negatively impacts the U.S. economy. Also, 71% of adults feel that children and teens have more mental health problems than they did 10 years ago. That said, more than half of adults (55%) think there is less mental health stigma than 10 years ago.

"Over the past 10 years, we've grown more comfortable talking about , and that's absolutely key to helping us through the current crisis," said APA CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A. "The continued work of APA is to ensure that people can access care when they need it, especially in areas that need it badly, like child and adolescent psychiatry."

Other issues people said they were anxious about include:

  • Keeping themselves or their families safe, 68%.
  • Keeping their identity safe, 63%.
  • Their health, 63%.
  • Paying bills or expenses, 63%.
  • The opioid epidemic, 50%.
  • The impact of emerging technology on day-to-day life, 46%.

In addition, 57% of adults are concerned about climate change.

This annual poll was conducted April 9 to 11, 2024, among a sample of more than 2,200 adults. This annual survey is complemented by APA's Healthy Minds Monthly series, conducted by Morning Consult on behalf of APA.

Citation: American adults polled express increasing anxiousness—stress, sleep key factors impacting mental health (2024, May 2) retrieved 30 May 2024 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2024-05-american-adults-polled-anxiousness-stress.html
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