The U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee released a new report on Thursday on how America’s failure to contain the coronavirus impacts American’s mental health.
The Committee, led by U.S. Sen. Don Beyer (D-VA), found that more than one-third of Americans (37 percent) reported symptoms of anxiety and/or depressive disorder, according to a recent survey by the U.S. Census Bureau. That number is triple the percentage that reported such symptoms in 2019. Latinos, Blacks, young people, and essential workers reported the highest increases.
The likely cause of the higher rate of depression and anxiety is the COVID-19 pandemic, the report said. Sixty-five percent of those surveyed said they fear they or their loved ones will contract COVID-19, while 70 percent reported they fear the virus will negatively impact their household income.
At the same time, Americans face substantial economic pressures, with more than 12 million unemployed workers and another 5 million having left the workforce. One-third of adult Americans reported having trouble paying their usual household expenses.
The JEC said a survey earlier this year by the CDC found that more than 1 in 10 adults in the U.S. (10.7 percent) had considered suicide in the past 30 days, more than double the share in 2019 (4.7 percent).
“Over 90 million Americans are reporting symptoms of anxiety and depression—likely the result of fears that they or their loved ones will get sick and die from the coronavirus or be unable to pay their bills because of the resulting recession. Many of these Americans and others have not seen their friends or family for months or have had to attend funerals via video conference. It is no surprise that we are seeing unprecedented rates of mental illness,” Beyer, the vice chair of the House Bipartisan Suicide Prevention Task Force, said.
States with the highest rates of people reporting mental illness symptoms were in the South and West, the report found.
According to the Pulse Household Survey, the states with the highest shares of adults reporting anxiety and depression symptoms were Oregon (48 percent), District of Columbia (46 percent), Louisiana, (45 percent), New Mexico (43 percent), and Nevada (43 percent). Those with the lowest are South Dakota (27 percent), North Dakota (28 percent), Delaware (28 percent), Minnesota (31 percent), and Wisconsin (31 percent).