In the summer of 2020, four months into the pandemic, one-half of people living in the U.S. felt worry or stress related to the coronavirus that had a negative impact on their mental health.
Over a year into the COVID-19 in America, nearly one-half of people still have negative mental health impacts due to the coronavirus, based on research from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) published in their April 2021 update on the mental health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Note the line in the bar chart from the study has flat-lined and settled at just about 50% of U.S. adults overall by March 2021.
But the mental health impacts of COVID in America aren’t felt evenly or homogeneously across all U.S. health citizens.
See the next chart, marked Figure 5 from the KFF report.
More women than men felt the impacts of negative mental health, worried about their or a family member getting sick from the SARS-CoV-2 virus: 53% of women compared with 45% of men.
And younger women feel mental health impacts more acutely than older women: While 55% of women overall feel worry/stress has negatively impacted their mental health, this varied by age group:
- 69% of women 18-29 years old felt negative mental health
- 61% of women 30-49 years old
- 54% of women 50-64 year
- And only 36% of women 65 and older felt negative mental health impacts from coronavirus worry.
Furthermore, more people of color, Hispanic and Black people in America, were worried they or someone in their family would contract the coronavirus: that difference was 6 in 10 people of color compared with 4 in 10 White folks.
Fewer older people 65 and over, marginally, felt negative mental health impacts in this study than people under 65.
Getting back to the Mars/Venus, women/men chasm, we can dig into the data further to find that more mothers, in particular, said worry or stress in the pandemic has had a negative impact on their mental health.
The gap between Moms and Dads is large, as shown in the third chart I curated from the KFF report:
- In total, 58% of Mothers are likely to say worry or stress about COVID-19 is negatively impacting their mental health, including 29% saying this is a “major impact” on mental health and 29% a “minor impact;” compared with,
- In total, 32% of Fathers were likely to say worry or stress has had negative impacts on their mental health, including 17% noting a “major impact” and 15%, a “minor impact.”
That’s a rate of nearly twice as many Moms than Dads with negative mental health impacts due to worrying about the coronavirus for themselves or their family members.
For this research, KFF interviewed 1,862 U.S. adults 18 and over by telephone (landline and cell phone sample) between March 15 to 22nd, 2021.
Health Populi’s Hot Points: Moms not only felt greater stress resulting in negative mental health impacts over a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, but 3 in 10 of them said they needed and were unable to get mental health services in the past year.
The last chart here, labeled Figure 7, details pandemic mental health impacts by demographic group in terms of people who may have needed mental health services or medications but did not receive them.
In addition to the American Mom-gap, one in five younger people 18 to 29 years of age and 30-49 year olds, Black adults, and mid-income households earning $40,000 to $90,000 did not access care or meds when needed in the past year.
Very few Fathers, Men, or people 65 years of age and older didn’t get mental health services or meds who needed them.
Among various insights we can draw from this Mars/Venus pandemic mental health analysis is that the recession that has hit women harder in the “She-Cession” also translates into a mental health care shortage for women in the COVID-19 era.
The over-arching caregiving crisis exacted by the pandemic and documented by the Rosalynn Carter Institute cannot be over-stated, which is a convergence of physical, mental, and financial health risks.