Since 2001, Gallup has asked Americans - as part of a November Health and Healthcare survey - to rate their mental or emotional well-being as “excellent,” “good,” “only fair” or “poor.”
A new poll released by Gallup reveals that Americans’ mental health is currently worse than it has been at any point in the last 20 years. Only 76% of US adults say their mental health is “excellent” or “good,” representing a nine-point decrease since last year. Even though the majority of Americans do still report excellent or good mental health, the latest poll is concerning, since it demonstrates a decrease in the excellent and good ratings.
According to Gallup, the decline in positive ratings is “undoubtedly influenced by the coronavirus pandemic, which continues to profoundly disrupt people's lives, but may also reflect views of the election and the state of race relations, both of which were on Americans' minds this year.”
The survey also found that the decline in Americans’ mental well-being differed across demographic subgroups, with women, Republicans, independents, those who attend religious services less than weekly, unmarried people, white adults, older adults and lower-income Americans all seeing double-digit point drops in the percentage of people rating their mental health as excellent since last year. Democrats and those who frequently attend church showed the smallest decline in mental health ratings.
However, Gallup also points out that the “subgroups showing the greatest declines in excellent mental health are not necessarily the groups with the lowest positive ratings,” noting that more Republicans and independents say they have excellent mental health compared to Democrats, while women rated their mental well-being more poorly than men.
This is not the first survey to indicate a deterioration in mental health ratings this year among Americans. April research from Gallup’s ongoing COVID-19 tracking survey found that 15% of US adults at the time reported harm to their emotional or mental health due to social distancing and other lockdown measures.
Also in April, Gallup found that the percentage of US adults who consider themselves “thriving” in their lives had dropped to 46.4%, which is the same low point measured during the Great Recession in November 2008.
Despite the fact that Americans’ mental well-being has deteriorated notably this past year, the same cannot be said for their self-reported physical health. The latest Gallup poll shows that 79% of Americans say their physical health is excellent or good, similar to the 81% of Americans who reported the same thing last year. These numbers are also close to the averages across the last two decades, Gallup noted.