Counseling Today, Online Exclusives

Survey says: America is stressed out

By Bethany Bray March 14, 2017

Infographic by the American Psychological Association, APA.org

In five months between fall 2016 and January 2017, the overall stress levels of American adults increased from 4.8 to 5.1 on a 10-point scale, according to recent surveys by the American Psychological Association (APA).

Fifty-seven percent of the more than 3,000 people surveyed in January said America’s current political climate is a “very” or “somewhat significant” source of stress; 66 percent said the same about the future of the nation; and 49 percent reported that the outcome of the presidential election was a “very” or “somewhat significant” source of stress.

The percentage of Americans who reported experiencing at least one symptom of stress in the past month, including headaches or feeling nervous, overwhelmed, sad or anxious, increased from 71 percent in August 2016 to 80 percent in January.

Notably, APA’s August 2016 poll recorded Americans’ lowest overall stress level in 10 years of polling.

APA commissions an annual survey to compile statistics on stress and causes of stress in the United States. It completed an additional survey in January to gauge stress levels specifically in the wake of the recent presidential election.

Although the data indicated an increase in overall stress, it’s not all bad news. Forty-one percent of poll-takers said they were “significantly” or “somewhat better” at managing their stress compared with 10 years ago, whereas 39 percent said their ability to manage stress had stayed the same through the past decade.

Seventy-one percent said they have someone whom they can ask for needed emotional support but feel they still need more; 51 percent responded that they could use “at least a little more” emotional support than they currently receive.

 

 

Other notable findings:

  • Between August and January, the percentage of Americans who said that personal safety is a “very” or “somewhat significant” source of stress increased from 29 to 34 percent. This is the highest response since the question was first asked in 2008, according to APA.
  • Sixty-nine percent of blacks, 57 percent of Asians, 56 percent of Hispanics and 42 percent of non-Hispanic whites said that the outcome of the election was a “very” or “somewhat significant” source of stress.
  • The percentage of Americans saying that acts of terrorism are a “very” or “somewhat significant” source of stress increased from 51 percent to 59 percent from August to January.
  • The percentage of Americans saying police violence toward minorities was a “very” or “somewhat significant” of stress increased from 36 percent to 44 percent during the same time period.

 

Infographic by the American Psychological Association, APA.org

Infographic by the American Psychological Association, APA.org

 

 

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Find out more, including further breakdowns of the data by demographics, age, race/ethnicity and other factors, at apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/index.aspx

 

From NPR: “Feeling way more stressed out? You’re not alone

 

 

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Counselors, have you noticed clients presenting more signs of stress in recent months? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.

 

 

 

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Bethany Bray is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Contact her at bbray@counseling.org

 

Follow Counseling Today on Twitter @ACA_CTonline and on Facebook at facebook.com/CounselingToday.

 

 

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Opinions expressed and statements made in articles appearing on CT Online should not be assumed to represent the opinions of the editors or policies of the American Counseling Association.

 

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