Mental health has always been important—and rightly so. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a great effect on the mental wellness of the vast majority of people, and this effect has been seen beyond the peak of the pandemic in 2020. It’s now 2022 and people are still feeling the impact on their mental health.
Experiencing so many impactful events over the last few years has certainly influenced everyone in many ways, and we set out to find exactly how. We surveyed 1,500 people in the United States to learn how COVID has caused shifts in mental health.
How Mental Health Changed in 2020
There were a variety of factors that impacted our mental health during 2020. Some experienced improvements in their mental health, while many others felt a decline in their mental wellness.
Unsurprisingly, most age groups experienced worsened mental health throughout the pandemic. In the 55+ age group, nearly three out of five respondents reported no significant change in their mental health. And in the age group of 35-44, more people saw an improvement in mental health rather than a decline.
While there are plenty of factors that contribute to the state of mental health at any given time, pandemic-related factors had the greatest negative influence on mental wellness in 2020. The top reason reported for seeing a decline in mental health was the unpredictability of the pandemic—55% said this negatively affected their mental health. The number-two reason was being quarantined, which 51% reported took a toll on them.
Women were more likely to see a decline in mental health during the pandemic in comparison to men. In fact, twice as many men saw an improvement in their mental health as women.
Mental Health Improvements During 2020
It’s known that exercise is good for your body in more than one way, and there’s a clear correlation between mental health and exercise during the pandemic. Of those that reported an improvement in their mental health during peak COVID (March 2020 - December 2020), 75% exercised for 30 minutes or longer at least a few times a week, if not every day. Those that exercised every day were 23% more likely to see an improvement in their mental health.
As many pet owners can attest, animals can be a comfort. People recognized that they could adopt a furry friend during the pandemic and get it certified to calm fears and anxieties, also known as an emotional support animal (ESA). 65% of ESA owners got their pet after the start of the pandemic to keep them company.
The Current State of Mental Health
Now that we seem to be through the thick of it, mental health improvements are happening in all age groups. Since the start of 2021, the younger groups have seen major improvements in mental health with nearly half of respondents falling into the ages of 18-44 reporting that their mental health is better now than it was in 2020.
We surveyed 1,500 people in the United States about their mental health over the last two years. We asked them about the state of their mental health previous to the COVID-19 pandemic, during the peak of the pandemic in 2020, and how their mental health has changed as the world has shifted in 2021 and 2022.
Here’s a breakdown of the respondents:
- 18–24 years: 15%
- 25–34 years: 24%
- 35–44 years: 31%
- 45–54 years: 13%
- 55+ years: 17%
- Female: 53%
- Male: 47%