Overall, psychological distress more than tripled between 2018 and this spring — from 4% of U.S. adults in 2018 to 14% in April.
Beth McGinty, an associate professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, said the findings, from a survey of 1,500 adults, suggest the need to prepare for a wave of mental illness once the pandemic passes.
“It is especially important to identify mental illness treatment needs and connect people to services, with a focus on groups with high psychological distress including young adults, adults in low-income households, and Hispanics,” McGinty said in a university news release.
It found that distress was especially acute among younger adults. Among 18- to 29-year-olds, 24% reported feelings of distress this spring, compared to 4% in 2018, researchers found.
Lower-income households also were keenly feeling the impact of the pandemic. Distress rose from less than 8% in 2018 to 19% in homes with a yearly income of less than $35,000, the survey found.
And 18% of Hispanics reported psychological distress in 2020, up from 4% in 2018.
Among Americans age 55 and older, psychological distress nearly doubled between 2018 and April — rising from nearly 4% to over 7%.
“The study suggests that the distress experienced during COVID-19 may transfer to longer-term psychiatric disorders requiring clinical care,” McGinty said.
The findings were published online June 3 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
— Steven Reinberg
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SOURCE: Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, news release, June 4, 2020