American mental health ratings reached their lowest point in two decades this year. Only 34 percent of U.S. adults assess their emotional well-being as “excellent” compared to 43 percent who reported the same in 2019.
The nine-point drop comes as the American self-assessment survey conducted by Gallup showed ratings relatively stable since the polling group launched its November Health and Healthcare series in 2001.
According to Gallup, drops in mental health ratings were most prominent among Republicans, where 41 percent reported being in “excellent” condition in the Nov. 5-19 poll, a 15-point drop from 56 percent who said the same a year ago. Republicans however, still held a higher-rate of mental well-being than Democrats, 29 percent of whom rated their mental health as “excellent.”
Those with the greatest ratings of mental well-being were attendants of weekly religious services, who were the only sub-group to report a rise in their mental health from 42 percent to 46 percent reporting their psyche of being in excellent shape.
The Gallup poll surveying 1,018 Americans over the age of 18 corroborates research suggesting that a higher importance of religious spirituality in one’s life can abate the symptoms of mental distress exacerbated by isolation and uncertainty imposed pandemic lockdowns.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in August, 2 in 5 Americans reported suffering from symptoms of anxiety, depression, trauma, or stressor-related disorder stemming from the coronavirus pandemic. One in four young adults aged 18-24 reported seriously contemplating suicide within the 30 days of completing the survey, and 16 percent said the same between the ages of 25 and 44.
The national suicide hotline is 1-800-273-8255. More resources are here.
The Gallup data shows individuals placing a greater value in religion illustrated a higher mental well-being as opposed to those who don’t. Forty-six percent of weekly service-goers said their mental condition remained excellent, 35 percent of those who said they attended services either nearly weekly or monthly said so, and only 29 percent of those who said they never went to religious services reported the same.
“Faith is hope that there’s a future,” East Tennessee therapist Allysen Efferson told The Federalist in May, and the science bears that out.
Columbia University psychologist Lisa Miller found in 2014 that spirituality and religion can act as a psychic armor to protect individuals from depression by thickening the brain cortex. Three years prior, Miller found that among adults who reported a high importance on religion or spirituality, 76 percent were less likely to suffer from a major depressive episode, even when their parents had depression therefore raising their risk.