2020 has been tough on everyone.
It has been particularly challenging from a mental health perspective. The disruptions Covid has had on our social interactions has clearly taken a toll.
Gallup has done an annual survey of Americans regarding their health and wellbeing since 2001.
One of the questions it asks survey participants is to provide a self-assessment of their mental health and emotional wellbeing as excellent, good, fair or poor.
It should come as no surprise that the percentage of those rating their mental health either excellent or good took a nosedive in 2020.
Here is a graph of those Gallup results since 2001.
The effects of Covid on mental health are seen in hard statistics as well.
There has been an estimated 18% increase in drug overdoses since Covid measures took effect according to ODMAP which is a surveillance system that tracks overdose cases nationally.
How many have succumbed to Covid?
Franklin County (Columbus) in Ohio has already had 551 confirmed overdose deaths this year and is expected to end the year with over 600. Covid deaths for the year so far are 695. We hear a lot about the Covid deaths but we don't hear much about the overdose deaths.
At this point accurate data is not available on the number of suicides this year but indications are that this number is up from 2019.
What is known is that there have been more deaths from suicide among high school students this year than from Covid.
CDC Director Robert Redfield warned about the trends they were seeing on suicides among this age group in July. It is undoubtedly worse five months later.
"We’re seeing, sadly, far greater suicides now than we are deaths from COVID. We’re seeing far greater deaths from drug overdose that are above excess that we had as background than we are seeing the deaths from COVID. So this is why I keep coming back for the overall social being of individuals, is let’s all work together and find out how we can find common ground to get these schools open in a way that people are comfortable and they're safe."
The Gallup survey does not include people under the age of 18 but I thought there were some very interesting insights in the data they collected among different demographic groups.
Here are the complete breakdowns by groups.
I found two items in the survey to be particularly interesting.
First, notice how low Democrats rate their mental health.
In 2019, only 30% rated their mental health as excellent. By comparison, 56% of Republicans thought their mental health was excellent. 44% of Independents felt the same.
That is a remarkable difference.
The good news for Democrats is they only dropped one point in 2020 vs. 2019. It is almost as if external events finally matched their dim mental outlook.
You need to also take into account that this survey was taken after election day when these Democrats should be feeling better since Trump was "defeated" in the election. It makes me wonder what their mental state would be if the tables were reversed right now?
The other interesting item is the fact that the only group who stated that their mental health state was BETTER in 2020 vs. 2019 is people who say they attend religious services weekly.
That seems to be a pretty strong endorsement of the benefits of a strong faith and a belief in something bigger and better than ourselves.
What better message can I leave you with this Christmas?