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As Americans Emerge from Pandemic, Many Report Adopting Better Habits, While One in Five Are Smoking or Drinking More

  • March 07, 2022

As states lifted masking requirements and infection numbers dropped late this winter, the majority of Americans reported their mood was stable since January (64%) and that the pandemic either hadn’t changed their daily habits (49%) or had changed them for the better (26%). However, nearly three in 10 (28%) rated their mental health as merely fair or poor, and almost a fifth reported that they were smoking (17%) or drinking (18%) more.

People making less than $50,000 (35%) were more than three times as likely as those making $100,000 or more (11%) to rate their mental health as fair or poor, and 7% more likely than all adults (28%).

This is according to the latest edition of American Psychiatric Association (APA)’s Healthy Minds Monthly* a poll conducted by Morning Consult, fielded Feb. 18-19, 2022, among a nationally representative sample of 2,500 adults. The poll focused on pandemic-related habits and Americans’ moods.

Dads (37%) are almost twice as likely as moms (19%) and all adults (18%) to say their mood had changed for the better in the past month. They were also more likely to say spending time at home changed their daily habits for the better (45%) than moms (29%) and all adults (26%).

Differences emerged in racial/ethnic groups as well: A fifth of Hispanic adults (20%) say their mood has gotten worse compared to a month ago, compared to 15% of all adults. On the other hand, Hispanic adults (32%) and Black adults (36%) are more likely than adults of other ethnicities (24%) to say their daily habits had improved during the pandemic.

Adults who said they were feeling better this month attributed it to generally feeling good (45%) and the weather (27%). Those who felt worse mentioned their finances (20%), inflation (10%), financial stress (10%), money (10%) and COVID-19 (20%).

“While many Americans seem to have emerged from the pandemic feeling good about their new habits, there are some points of concern here, such as those who’ve started using substances more than before,” said APA President Vivian Pender, M.D. "Also, peoples’ finances can matter to mental health, which is important to monitor while the nation’s economy is in flux.”

Men are more likely than women to say they have increased the amount they exercise, shower, drink alcohol, and smoke or use drugs. Hispanic adults (36%) and Black adults (33%) are more likely than adults of other ethnicities (27%) to say the amount they talk about their mental health has increased.

About a third of adults say they often (35%) wonder if their habits might be related to a more significant mental health issue (such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, or substance use disorder). That concern is higher among Hispanic adults (46%), than those who are white (34%), Black (40%), or of another ethnicity (36%).  

*APA’s Healthy Minds Monthly tracks timely mental health issues throughout the year. APA also releases its annual Healthy Minds Poll each May in conjunction with Mental Health Awareness Month.

American Psychiatric Association
The American Psychiatric Association, founded in 1844, is the oldest medical association in the country. The APA is also the largest psychiatric association in the world with 37,400 physician members specializing in the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and research of mental illnesses. APA’s vision is to ensure access to quality psychiatric diagnosis and treatment. For more information, please visit www.psychiatry.org.

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