Land Of The Worried: 83% Of Americans Very Stressed Over Nation’s Future

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  • New survey shows 7 in 10 Americans agree 2020 is the lowest point in the country’s history that they’ve witnessed
  • Two-thirds say that the government’s response to the coronavirus is a source of daily stress for them

WASHINGTON — The year 2020 feels like a crossroads for the United States. With a pivotal election just around the corner, protests in the streets, and a deadly virus that refuses to disappear, our nation hasn’t felt this vulnerable and divided in ages. You don’t have to be genius or a scientist to guess that Americans are probably feeling on edge these days. The results of a new piece of research from the American Psychological Association reveals the shocking extent of that stress.

Across two polls, more than 5,000 adult U.S. residents were recently surveyed on the state of America right now. A staggering 83% say that worrying about the future of the United States is a big source of personal stress. Also, 72% believe this is the lowest point in the country’s history that they’ve ever been alive to see.

“We are experiencing the collision of three national crises — the COVID-19 pandemic, economic turmoil and recent, traumatic events related to systemic racism. As a result, the collective mental health of the American public has endured one devastating blow after another, the long-term effects of which many people will struggle with for years to come,” says Arthur C. Evans Jr., PhD, APA’s chief executive officer, in a release. “We don’t have to be passive players in mitigating the rapidly increasing stress Americans are facing and its consequences on our health.”

Police brutality, racial tension unnerving most Americans

Among African American respondents, 55% said that discrimination in America is a major source of personal stress. Just last month an earlier poll showed only 42% of African American participants sharing that same sentiment. It’s clear that George Floyd’s murder and its aftermath has exacerbated racial tensions and stressors in the United States.

Meanwhile, 71% of all Americans report that police violence and brutality toward minorities is a big stressor in their lives. On the bright side, however, 67% believe the current protests and calls for accountability will lead to meaningful change.

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“America has an ongoing racism pandemic that continues to devastate the lives and livelihoods of our black communities,” Evans comments. “The majority of Americans are finally coming to terms with the reality people of color have known all too well for all too long and that research has documented: Racism poses a public health threat and the psychological burden is immense. We have a lot of healing to do as a nation. Increased access to psychological supports is one way to move us more in the right direction.”

Government causing even more stress

Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States is far from over. As such, 66% of respondents say that the government’s ongoing response to the coronavirus continues to stress them out on a daily basis. Among that group, 84% are mostly worried about the federal government’s response. More than seven in 10 (72%) are concerned about their state leaders.

Another 64% feel unstrung over their local government.

Six in 10 respondents agree that the thought of the U.S. economy reopening gives them significant stress. That being said, 72% are confident they can protect themselves and their family from the coronavirus, regardless of businesses opening back up. Another large portion (65%) want more information on best safety practices once their local community reopens.

The Stress in America 2020: Stress in the Time of COVID-19 report uses two surveys conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of APA. One was conducted May 21-June 3, 2020, among 3,013 American adults over 18. An additional poll about the current civil unrest was conducted June 9-11, 2020, among 2,058 Americans over 18.

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