Level of Anxiety and Self-Assessment of Mental Health Varies Among Demographic Groups
Washington, D.C., Dec. 20, 2021 — As 2021 draws to a close, more than one in four Americans (26%) or more than 67 million adults say that next year, improving their mental health is on their minds, and just over one-third (37%) say they are anxious about their mental health to start the new year. Among those making resolutions focused on mental health, 53% will meditate, 37% plan to see a therapist, 35% will take a break from social media, 32% will journal, 26% will use a mental health app, and 20% plan to specifically see a psychiatrist.
Heading into the new year, Americans are, overall, more likely to grade their mental health as excellent (26%) or good (42%) than fair (22%) or poor (9%). However, compared to white and Hispanic adults, adults who are Black (41%) or of another race or ethnicity (42%) are more likely to grade their mental health in 2021 as fair or poor. In addition, nearly half (46%) of young adults, ages 18-34, and mothers (42%) also graded their mental health in 2021 as fair or poor.
The findings are from The American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) Healthy Minds Monthly* a poll conducted by Morning Consult. The New Year’s poll was fielded Dec. 6-8, 2021, among a nationally representative sample of 2,119 adults.
Among the poll’s other highlights:
“The new calendar year for many symbolizes a time for renewal, for trying new things, and, for some, new beginnings,” said APA President Vivian Pender, M.D. “To see one in four Americans focusing on their mental health in this moment is important and encouraging. What is worrisome, although not unexpected, is the level of variation among demographic groups on their overall level of mental health, and we as psychiatrists need to understand those trends.”
Some demographic groups are more likely than others to say they will make a resolution focused on mental health: Adults ages 18-34 (42%) are more than four times as likely as those ages 65+ (9%). Black adults (42%) are more likely than those from all other racial and ethnic groups to make one. It is more common among parents (34%) than non-parents (23%); particularly moms (40%). And nearly half (47%) of dads making a mental health resolution plan to take a break from social media.
Different demographic groups also express various sources of anxiety. Women are more likely than men to be anxious about their personal finances and the uncertainty of the next year. Similar to what was found in recent APA polling on the holidays, Hispanic adults are more likely than white or Black adults to report feeling anxious across six of 12 issue areas, including 70% who say they are anxious about their personal finances. (For more, see the attached). Compared to unvaccinated adults without plans to get the vaccine, vaccinated adults are more likely to feel anxious about the state of the COVID-19 pandemic (28% versus 62%). Vaccinated and unvaccinated adults are about equally anxious about their mental health (37% and 35%).
“It can’t be said enough that there is no health without mental health, and it sounds like a lot of us will be starting the new year with that focus in mind,” said APA CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A. “That said, 2022 will bring challenges and with the emergence of Omicron just beginning, people are already anxious, and it is important to take steps to manage mental health and cope with the uncertainty we face.”
Among the other top resolution topic areas Americans are planning for 2022: 42% are focused on physical fitness, 36% on their finances, 27% are focused on diet, 25% on social/relationships and 20% on spiritual.
*APA’s Healthy Minds Monthly tracks timely mental health issues throughout the year. APA also releases its annual Healthy Minds Poll each May in conjunction with Mental Health Awareness Month.
American Psychiatric Association
The American Psychiatric Association, founded in 1844, is the oldest medical association in the country. The APA is also the largest psychiatric association in the world with more than 37,400 physician members specializing in the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and research of mental illnesses. APA's vision is to ensure access to quality psychiatric diagnosis and treatment. For more information please visit www.psychiatry.org.