October 8, 2021/News Releases

The Pandemic Effect: Mental Health is as Important as Physical Health, Say 82% of Americans

Survey from Parade Media and Cleveland Clinic reveals that people grew emotionally during the pandemic and discovered new ways to cope with stress and anxiety

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NEW YORK – OCTOBER 8, 2021 – While the COVID-19 crisis has changed many aspects of our lives, the pandemic has given Americans a newfound appreciation for the importance of mental health, prompting many to feel emotionally stronger and develop healthy ways of handling challenging life experiences.

According to results of a 2021 Healthy Now survey commissioned by Parade Media and Cleveland Clinic, 82% of respondents strongly agree that mental health – long marginalized by many Americans – is just as important as physical health, a substantial increase over the 68% who strongly agreed in 2018. Plus, about 1/3 of Americans believe that dealing with the pandemic, despite its hardships and challenges, has made them emotionally stronger by:

  • Teaching them to be more empathetic toward others (33%)
  • Helping them learn positive coping behaviors to handle stress and anxiety (32%)
  • Increasing their desire to give back and help others (30%).
(Courtesy: Cleveland Clinic)

This emotional growth brings with it a newfound sense of inner strength among many Americans, as the survey revealed that three quarters (74%) of Americans say the pandemic has made them feel more confident that they can handle any challenges life throws at them.

“I am heartened that the struggle and hardship we have been through over the last 18 months has helped destigmatize mental health and made it more of a priority for many Americans,” said Lisa Delaney, SVP/Chief Content Officer, Parade Media. “Mental health IS health. Normalizing and elevating the conversation around mental health is a major step in improving access to important resources to support this crucial element of overall wellbeing.”

(Courtesy: Cleveland Clinic)

Key Habits of Most Resilient Revealed

While many Americans have grown emotionally throughout the pandemic, its lingering effects continue to have an adverse impact. Americans are more likely to feel stressed, anxious and/or depressed during the fall 2021 phase of the pandemic (60%) than during fall 2020 3 (50%), while more than half (56%) feel their anxiety, depression and/or stress levels rise as the number of COVID-19 cases rise.

The survey revealed selected habits and behaviors shared by those Americans who did display resiliency despite these challenges. For instance, resilient people are more likely than the average American to:

  • Have a strong social support system (88% vs. 76%, respectively)
  • Make getting adequate sleep a priority (64% vs. 51%, respectively)
  • Make eating healthy a priority (58% vs. 48%, respectively)

“As the survey results reveal, resilient people are benefitting from coping mechanisms that can have a positive impact on mental as well as physical health,” said Dawn Potter, PsyD, a psychologist with the Cleveland Clinic Center for Adult Behavioral Health. “By understanding the habits of resiliency, we can develop and adopt tools to bolster our ability to deal not just with the current pandemic crisis, but other challenges we face in life.”

Celebrity Spokespeople Are Effective Mental Health Role Models

Celebrities who speak out about mental health have had a positive impact in destigmatizing the issue. Nearly half of Americans (46%) said that celebrities or other public figures opening up about their mental/emotional struggles helps them; and 39% feel empowered to share their own experiences upon hearing a celebrity or public figure address the topic. Further, 42% of Americans check on friends and family when a celebrity voices their feelings around mental and emotional health.

To amplify this finding and to coincide with the release of the survey results, Parade Media is hosting “Take a Mental Health Day” on October 8 at 9 a.m. ET. This free virtual event, in observance of World Mental Health Day on October 10, will feature celebrities including Rosario Dawson, Mayim Bialik, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Jordin Sparks and Jameel Jamil discussing their own techniques for staying mentally and emotionally healthy. Dr. Potter of Cleveland Clinic will also offer expert commentary and advice. The event will be streamed on Parade’s YouTube channel and on Parade.com.

Other survey results revealed these highlights:

  • About two-thirds (65%) of respondents agreed that the pandemic has made them feel more connected to their family and friends than ever before.
  • Three in 10 (30%) Americans stated they felt more kindness from strangers, family and/or friends since the easing of the COVID-19 restrictions.
  • More than half of consumers (52%) stated that the availability of the COVID-19 vaccine made their mental or emotional health better.
  • Compared to Parade/Cleveland Clinic’s 2018 Healthy Now survey, Americans are more likely today to believe that giving up social media will improve their health (either physically or mentally) (31% in 2021 vs. 17% in 2018).
  • Despite the emotional growth experienced by many Americans, some populations have not fared as well. For example, half (51%) of diabetes patients have developed unhealthy habits during the pandemic (compared to 43% of the average American).

For more information and full results, visit Parade.com/healthynow.

About Cleveland Clinic

Cleveland Clinic is a nonprofit multispecialty academic medical center that integrates clinical and hospital care with research and education. Located in Cleveland, Ohio, it was founded in 1921 by four renowned physicians with a vision of providing outstanding patient care based upon the principles of cooperation, compassion and innovation. Cleveland Clinic has pioneered many medical breakthroughs, including coronary artery bypass surgery and the first face transplant in the United States. Cleveland Clinic is consistently recognized in the U.S. and throughout the world for its expertise and care. Among Cleveland Clinic’s 81,000 employees worldwide are more than 5,743 salaried physicians and researchers, and 20,160 registered nurses and advanced practice providers, representing 140 medical specialties and subspecialties. Cleveland Clinic is a 6,690-bed health system that includes a 173-acre main campus near downtown Cleveland, 23 hospitals, 276 outpatient facilities, including locations in northeast Ohio; Florida; Las Vegas, Nevada; Toronto, Canada; Abu Dhabi, UAE; and London, England. In 2023, there were 13.7 million outpatient encounters, 323,000 hospital admissions and observations, and 301,000 surgeries and procedures throughout Cleveland Clinic’s health system. Patients came for treatment from every state and 132 countries. Visit us at clevelandclinic.org. Follow us at twitter.com/CleClinicNews. News and resources available at newsroom.clevelandclinic.org.

Editor’s Note: Cleveland Clinic News Service is available to provide broadcast-quality interviews and B-roll upon request.

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