Poll: Americans’ Mental Health Has Hit a 20-Year Low

Just 34 percent of Americans now say they have “excellent” mental health, down 43 percent from 2019 and the lowest its been at any point over the last 20 years, when Gallup first started asking the question. On the whole, 66 percent of Americans have a positive assessment of their mental health — a nine-point dip from where it was last year.

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Gallup first started taking an annual pulse of the nation’s mental health in 2001 and since then, between 81 and 88 percent of respondents have said their mental health is either excellent or good. This year’s drop to 76 percent is significant. Hey, did something depressing happen this year?

Still, most Americans give themselves overall good marks for mental health. 34 percent say their mental health is “excellent” and 42 percent say it’s “good. Only 18 percent say it’s fair and just five percent say it’s “poor.” That’s still pretty solid, but it’s still eight points fewer on the “excellent” marker than Gallup’s ever recorded. In April, Gallup found that most Americans felt that they’d be able to abide by social distancing guidelines as long as necessary without any significant impact on their physical health — but less than half said the same of their mental health (so far, that appears to be true. Gallup found no major dip in respondents’ physical health from 2020 to 2021.)

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What’s especially interesting is who is seeing their mental health decline the most. Women, Republicans, independents, white adults, single adults, older adults, lower-income Americans and people who attend religious services less than weekly saw their positive mental health assessment drop by double digits. Democrats and frequent church attendees saw the least change. That being said, Republicans and independents still overall rate their mental health higher than Democrats do, and women rate their mental health less positively than men.

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