June 19, 2024

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Sleep and Stress Major Players in US Mental Health Concerns: Poll

3 min read

Summary: The 2024 American Psychiatric Association’s survey shows a significant increase in anxiety among US adults, with stress and sleep cited as key contributors to mental health issues. Despite the surge in anxiety, only a quarter of adults sought professional mental health support in the past year. The survey also revealed concerns about losing access to mental healthcare and health insurance, particularly among insured adults. Anxiety over current events, the economy, and gun violence remains high. 

Key Takeaways:

  • The 2024 APA survey indicates a significant rise in anxiety among US adults, with stress and sleep identified as major factors impacting mental health.
  • Despite increasing anxiety levels, only 24% of adults sought professional mental health support in the past year, highlighting potential barriers to accessing care.
  • Concerns about losing access to mental healthcare and health insurance are prevalent among insured adults, reflecting broader anxieties about the impact of current events and societal issues on mental well-being.

The 2024 results of the American Psychiatric Association’s annual mental health poll show that US adults are feeling increasingly anxious, and factors like stress and sleep are having the biggest impact on mental health. 

In 2024, 43% of adults say they feel more anxious than they did the previous year, up from 37% in 2023 and 32% in 2022. Adults are particularly anxious about current events (70%)—especially the economy (77%), the 2024 US election (73%), and gun violence (69%).

When asked about a list of lifestyle factors potentially impacting mental health, adults most commonly say stress (53%) and sleep (40%) have the biggest impact on their mental health. 

Younger adults (18-34 years old) are more likely than older adults (50 and older) to say social connection has the biggest impact on their mental health. 

Low Mental Health Support Utilization

Despite the increasing anxiety, most adults have not sought professional mental health support. In 2024, just one in four (24%) adults say they talked with a mental health care professional in the past year. Notably, younger adults (18-34) are more than twice as likely as older adults (50 and older) to have done so.

One in four adults say they talked with a mental health care professional in the past year. Photo 118616947 © Tero Vesalainen | Dreamstime.com

“Living in a world of constant news of global and local turmoil, some anxiety is natural and expected,” says American Psychiatric Association president Petros Levounis, MD, MA, in a release. “But what stands out here is that Americans are reporting more anxious feelings than in past years. This increase may be due to the unprecedented exposure that we have to everything that happens in the world around us, or to an increased awareness and reporting of anxiety. Either way, if people have these feelings, they are not alone, and they can seek help from us.”

Among adults who have used mental health care this year, more than half prefer to meet with a mental health professional in person (55%) rather than via telehealth; 30% prefer telehealth; and 15% have no preference. Also among adults who have used mental healthcare this year, more than half (59%) are worried about losing access to mental healthcare, and 39% of insured adults are worried about losing their health insurance, as a result of the election this year. 

Impacts of Untreated Mental Illness

Americans perceive broad impacts of untreated mental illness: 83% of adults say it negatively impacts families, and 65% say it negatively impacts the US. economy. Also, 71% of adults feel that children and teens have more mental health problems than they did 10 years ago. That said, more than half of adults (55%) think there is less mental health stigma than 10 years ago.

“Over the past 10 years, we’ve grown more comfortable talking about mental health, and that’s absolutely key to helping us through the current crisis,” says American Psychiatric Association CEO and medical director Saul Levin, MD, MPA, in a release.

Top Anxiety Triggers Revealed

Other issues people said they were anxious about include:

  • Keeping themselves or their families safe, 68%.
  • Keeping their identity safe, 63%.
  • Their health, 63%.
  • Paying bills or expenses, 63%.
  • The opioid epidemic, 50%.
  • The impact of emerging technology on day-to-day life, 46%.

In addition, 57% of adults are concerned about climate change.

This annual poll was conducted from April 9 to 11 among a sample of more than 2,200 adults. 

Photo 188559150 © Joshua Resnick | Dreamstime.com

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