The American Psychological Association (APA) has conducted an annual study for decades on stress in America. This year, their study coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic, which captured the specific stressors related to this unprecedented situation. Not surprisingly, two prominent findings from this year’s study were parental stress and pessimism about the future.
During the pandemic, most schools transitioned to remote learning, leaving parents responsible for overseeing their child’s or children’s education from home. At the same time, many parents were also attempting to work from home themselves, had been furloughed or laid off, or needed to find childcare unexpectedly. As a result, approximately half of the parents surveyed in APA’s study rated their stress as high, with 71% reporting at-home schooling as a significant stressor. Additionally, for every American, work and economic issues are now rated as higher stressors than in previous years.
A second key finding was stress about the future, in which 83% of respondents identified it as a significant stressor (compared to 69% in a previous study). Concern about the future was related to race relations and discrimination, safety of re-opening, and the government’s response to the pandemic. Over 70% of respondents cited police violence toward minorities as a source of stress, while 55% of Black respondents described their experiences with discrimination as a current stressor. The study did not capture respondents’ perceptions about the public and legislative responses to these injustices; however, it did ask about federal and local governments’ response to the pandemic. Overall, the majority of respondents were dissatisfied with the handling of the pandemic, and most worry about the impact of returning to a re-opened society.
Given recent events, APA’s findings are not unexpected. However, the results underscore the significant impact on every American, and my previous blogs have discussed the negative effects of stress. Many online resources are available to help address stress and mental health, and mental health professionals have prioritized finding ways to provide care safely during this pandemic. However, it has been a continued challenge to provide care for those who need it but are unable to access it due to financial and privacy limitations, and many organizations are working to find solutions.