While the COVID-19 crisis has changed many aspects of our lives, the pandemic has given Americans a newfound appreciation for the importance of mental health, prompting many to feel emotionally stronger and develop healthy ways of handling challenging life experiences.
According to results of a 2021 Healthy Now survey commissioned by Parade Media and Cleveland Clinic, 82% of respondents strongly agree that mental health – long marginalized by many Americans – is just as important as physical health, a substantial increase over the 68% who strongly agreed in 2018. Plus, about 1/3 of Americans believe that dealing with the pandemic, despite its hardships and challenges, has made them emotionally stronger by:
- Teaching them to be more empathetic toward others (33%)
- Helping them learn positive coping behaviors to handle stress and anxiety (32%)
- Increasing their desire to give back and help others (30%).
This emotional growth brings with it a newfound sense of inner strength among many Americans, as the study revealed that three quarters (74%) of Americans say the pandemic has made them feel more confident that they can handle any challenges life throws at them.
“I am heartened that the struggle and hardship we have been through over the last 18 months has helped destigmatize mental health and made it more of a priority for many Americans,” said Lisa Delaney, SVP/Chief Content Officer, Parade Media. “Mental health IS health. Normalizing and elevating the conversation around mental health is a major step in improving access to important resources to support this crucial element of overall wellbeing.”
Key Habits of Most Resilient Revealed
While many Americans have grown emotionally throughout the pandemic, its lingering effects continue to have an adverse impact. Americans are more likely to feel stressed, anxious and/or depressed during the fall 2021 phase of the pandemic (60%) than during fall 2020 (50%), while more than half (56%) feel their anxiety, depression and/or stress levels rise as the number of COVID-19 cases rise.
The survey revealed selected habits and behaviors shared by those Americans who did display resiliency despite these challenges. For instance, resilient people are more likely than the average American to:
- Have a strong social support system (88% vs. 76%, respectively)
- Make getting adequate sleep a priority (64% vs. 51%, respectively)
- Make eating healthy a priority (58% vs. 48%, respectively)
“As the survey results reveal, resilient people are benefitting from coping mechanisms that can have a positive impact on mental as well as physical health,” said Dawn Potter, PsyD, a psychologist with the Cleveland Clinic Center for Adult Behavioral Health. “By understanding the habits of resiliency, we can develop and adopt tools to bolster our ability to deal not just with the current pandemic crisis, but other challenges we face in life.”
Other survey results revealed these highlights:
- About two-thirds (65%) of respondents agreed that the pandemic has made them feel more connected to their family and friends than ever before.
- Three in 10 (30%) Americans stated they felt more kindness from strangers, family and/or friends since the easing of the COVID-19 restrictions.
- More than half of consumers (52%) stated that the availability of the COVID-19 vaccine made their mental or emotional health better.
- Compared to Parade/Cleveland Clinic’s 2018 Healthy Now survey2, Americans are more likely today to believe that giving up social media will improve their health (either physically or mentally) (31% in 2021 vs. 17% in 2018).
- Despite the emotional growth experienced by many Americans, some populations have not fared as well. For example, half (51%) of diabetes patients have developed unhealthy habits during the pandemic (compared to 43% of the average American).
To amplify this finding and to coincide with the release of the survey results, Parade Media hosted “Take a Mental Health Day” on October 8. This free virtual event, in observance of World Mental Health Day on October 10,featured celebrities including Rosario Dawson, Mayim Bialik, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Jordin Sparks and Jameel Jamil discussing their own techniques for staying mentally and emotionally healthy. Dr. Potter of Cleveland Clinic also offered expert commentary and advice.
Source: Parade Media