Most adults in the United States (70%) are anxious or extremely anxious about keeping themselves or their families safe, with 42% very anxious about gun violence, results of a national mental health poll conducted by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) show.
"There is a lot of worry in the world right now about economic uncertainty, about violence, about how we're going to come out of this period of time," APA President Rebecca W. Brendel, MD, JD, said during an APA press briefing announcing the latest poll results.
Brendel said the results are an important reminder and opportunity for psychiatrists to put their finger on the pulse of Americans' mental health.
"If 70% of people are feeling unsafe, we need to come up with individual and also society-based solutions to help people move forward so that we can see a brighter future and not experience so much anxiety," she added.
The poll was conducted between April 20 and 22 among a nationally representative sample of 2201 adults. The analysis also tracks data from a poll conducted between April 23 and 24, 2022, among a sample of 2210 adults.
Overall, nearly 2 in 5 adults (37%) report feeling more anxious than they were at this time last year, which is higher than in 2022 (32%) but lower than in 2021 (41%) and 2020 (62%).
About one third (30%) of adults said they have consulted a mental health care professional, a slight uptick from 2022.
Other issues keeping Americans up at night include keeping their identity safe (68%), their health (66%), paying bills or expenses (65%), climate change (59%), the opioid epidemic (50%) and the impact of emerging technology on day-to-day life (45%).
Half of respondents reported they would be likely to consider a mental health treatment involving cannabis or marijuana, while most said they would be unlikely to consider a treatment involving psychedelics (59%) or ketamine (56%).
Two thirds (68%) of American adults report that their children and teenagers have more mental health problems than they did a decade ago.
More than 50% of parents are concerned about their children’s technology use (59%) and mental state (55%), and 31% have encountered difficulty scheduling appointments with mental health professionals for their children.
More than three quarters (78%) of US adults believe mental health affects physical health and that untreated mental illness has a significant negative effect on families (78%). About two thirds (64%) believe untreated mental illness harms the economy.
One in three (34%) adults would not vote for a candidate for elected office with a mental illness — up 7% from 2022.
"The majority of the public understands something we’ve been saying for a long time: your mental health is about your health," Saul Levin, MD, MPA, chief executive officer and medical director at the American Psychiatric Association, said in the release.
"It's contingent upon us as a field to continue to spread that message, and that those who are experiencing mental health concerns aren't alone and that there are ways to receive help," Levin added.
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Cite this: Anxiety High Among Americans, NationalPoll Shows - Medscape - May 11, 2023.