Women and parents are feeling the greatest emotional strain after six months of COVID-19 lockdowns, according to new research from Finn Partners.
The research, conducted by Civis Analytics, showed that women reported higher levels of anxiety (56 percent vs. 43 percent for men), sadness (36 percent vs. 27 percent for men) and fear (29 percent vs. 24 percent for men).
Parents with children under 18 are about evenly split between those who say that their family relationships are improving and those who say these relationships are worsening. However, their relationships with nearly everyone else aren’t doing as well, with 21 percent saying that their friendships are suffering, as opposed to 16 percent who say they are getting better.
When it comes to relationships with co-workers, about 20 percent of those parents are seeing a decline, while less than 10 percent say they have noticed any improvement.
Overall, half (50 percent) of respondents say that their level of anxiety has increased, while 32 percent report more sadness, about one out of four (27 percent) are experiencing more fear and 25 percent say they are feeling more anger.
But the changes brought about by the pandemic aren’t all negative. Almost four out of ten respondents (38 percent) say they’re spending more time outdoors with family and friends, and 44 percent of parents with kids 18 and under in the house report feeling more connected to their social networks.
Many respondents are also turning to exercise to help them cope with COVID-19 related stress. While 45 percent of adults with children at home are exercising more (compared to 28 percent of adults without kids at home), exercise is also up with 40 percent of those under 35.
The effects of working from home don’t loom nearly as large as one might think. Only five percent of respondents chose it from a list of 10 options as the one having the greatest negative impact on their emotions, coming in behind concern about their health and the government response to the pandemic (18 percent); ongoing wearing of masks, concerns about job loss and continued social distancing (12 percent each); and schools being online this fall (10 percent).
“It’s important to recognize the uncertainty Americans have been living with this year, and how anxiety stemming from COVID-19 can color all our usual emotions,” says Dr. Catherine Belling, associate professor at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “Still, it does appear from these results that parents, in particular, may be forced into finding positive ways of adapting, perhaps leading to healthier long-term changes.”
The "COVID's Toll on America's Mental Health" report surveyed 3,552 respondents online between Aug. 14 and Aug. 17.