A poll released last month by Gallup found that Americans' views of their own mental health fell to a new low, with just 31% of Americans defining their mental health or emotional well-being as excellent. However, the number of U.S. adults who have seen a mental health professional in the past 12 months has increased significantly.
For the survey, Gallup conducted phone interviews from Nov. 9 to Dec. 2, 2022. In total, they interviewed 1,020 adults, aged 18 and older, in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
When asked how they would describe their own mental health or emotional well-being, only 31% of U.S. adults said theirs was "excellent," marking the lowest rating by three percentage points.
Meanwhile, 44% of Americans described their mental health as "good." The combined score of 75% for the excellent and good rating is the lowest on record. In addition, 17% of U.S. adults described their mental health as being "only fair," while 7% described their mental health as "poor"—the highest rating since 2001.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, there was an emerging mental health crisis among young Americans. However, the pandemic drove significant social changes, which exacerbated these rates, leading to increased prevalence of depression and anxiety among U.S. adults.
The share of Americans with self-reported "excellent" mental health hit its highest level in 2004, with 51%. In 2020, that figure fell to a then-historic low of 34%. Before the pandemic, that number typically fell somewhere around 45%.
According to the Gallup authors, the new low suggests that while the pandemic has improved, there are still lingering negative effects.
"These include economic concerns precipitated by the highest inflation rate in more than four decades," the survey authors wrote.
Among women, young U.S. adults, and individuals with lower annual household incomes, positive views on mental health and well-being were much lower, with just 28%, 20%, and 21% saying their mental health is "excellent," respectively.
As more people report a negative view of their mental health, the number of individuals seeking treatment is also rising. In the past 12 months, 23% of respondents reported visiting a mental health professional, compared with only 13% who said they sought treatment in 2004. Young adults and women are more likely to have sought mental health care treatment.
While the Covid-19 pandemic seemed to have a significant impact on Americans' mental health, the Gallup poll found that U.S. adults' perception of their physical health was less affected by the pandemic.
Americans have typically rated their physical health less favorably than their mental health in previous Gallup polls. While just 26% of U.S. adults' rated their physical health as "excellent"—the lowest recorded rating by one point—that measure has remained fairly consistent over time. In addition, 47% of Americans rated their physical health as "good," 21% rated it as "only fair" and 5% as "poor."
Among young adults, assessments of physical health were much more positive than older adults—a stark contrast to their mental health assessments. In addition, higher-income Americans were still the most likely to describe their physical health as "excellent," with positive assessments declining with income levels.
While the largest portion of Americans still describe their mental and physical health as "excellent" or "good," the number of Americans saying either is "excellent" is the lowest Gallup has ever recorded.
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