After two years of constant crisis, it’s not surprising that Americans are stressed, but according to a new American Psychological Association poll, as a group, we’re more stressed out than anyone previously realized. And parents are leading the pack.
The organization’s annual “Stress in America” poll, released Thursday, found that the pandemic and record-high inflation already stressed Americans, and when the Ukraine invasion began, our collective stress levels spiked. The original survey of 3,012 adult Americans was conducted in February and found that 87% of respondents were troubled by the continually rising costs of necessities like food and gas, the highest “proportion of adults seen across all stressors asked about in the history of the Stress in America™ survey.” A similarly high percentage said they felt their mental health was negatively impacted by a “constant stream of crises without a break over the last two years.”
While it seems all Americans are heavily stressed, parents are having a hell of a hard time. Over 70% of parents said they feared the pandemic had negatively affected their children’s social development, academic development, and emotional health or development. Sixty-eight percent said they were concerned about their children’s cognitive and physical development after two years of Covid protocols. Parents, compared to non-parents, were more likely to name money (80% vs. 58%), the economy (77% vs. 59%), and housing costs (72% vs. 39%) as “significant sources of stress.”
Researchers were shocked to find so many Americans stressed over the same things. “We don’t usually see 80 percent of people telling us that a particular stressor is stressful for that many individuals,” clinical psychologist Lynn Bufka, the APA’s associate chief for practice transformation, told CBS News.’
When the Russian invasion of Ukraine began, researchers completed a second poll with questions related to Russia and Ukraine. Eighty percent of the over 2,000 respondents said they were concerned that Russia would retaliate with nuclear threats or cyber-attacks and that the invasion has been “terrifying to watch.” Sixty-seven percent of those surveyed said they felt the invasion could mark the start of World War III and lead to nuclear war.
“The number of people who say they’re significantly stressed about these most recent events is stunning relative to what we’ve seen since we began the survey in 2007,” said Arthur C. Evans Jr., Ph.D., APA’s chief executive officer, in a statement. “Americans have been doing their best to persevere over these past two tumultuous years, but these data suggest that we’re now reaching unprecedented levels of stress that will challenge our ability to cope.”