Monday after Thanksgiving in workplaces everywhere there will be the pleasantries of how the holiday went, and the answers, to some degree, will reflect how we humans are dealing with a nine-month long pandemic.
For some families, the social slight of non-participation is too much to bear. For others, the risk isn’t worth it. There’s a million shades of in-between as well.
The risk-reward thought process varies from person to person.
There’s an infamous example of this concept where a lecturer asks a hall of people what they do to “stay safe.” Men’s answers are fairly straightforward, women’s answers are more nuanced.
The Household Pulse Survey conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics and U.S. Census Bureau has been collecting survey data from people on how their anxiety and depression levels have changed throughout the pandemic as well as which states have been the most impacted.
The survey reaches out to 14 million people nationwide, through emails and texts asking them to go online and complete a 20-minute questionnaire. With about 100,000 responses every week – and only about 8 days between collecting those responses and sharing them with the public – the survey provides a near real-time snapshot of what’s happening.
Arkansas ranked 10 in reported anxiety or depression with 38 percent of respondents reporting symptoms.
Residents of Arkansas are enjoying low unemployment rates compared to some states which halted their economies earlier this year in efforts to control the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Arkansas’s unemployment averaged edged up to 6.2 percent in October, an increase of 2.7 percent since a year ago, however it’s a percentage point down from September’s average of 7.2 percent.
The bureau reported the unemployment average for Independence County was 5.8 percent in September. County data for Arkansas had not been posted for the month of October yet. Some people had to briefly step away from work and social engagements during the pandemic. Other people, essential workers, found themselves working longer hours. For those with access to technology, life may not have changed too much. For others, too much changed too quickly..
Women are reporting more mental health struggles in these uncertain times. Nationally, 40.6 percent of women reported struggling with anxiety and depression, compared to 32.7 percent of men.
Women are more likely to be the caretakers, getting groceries, buying the masks, making sure everyone washes their hands, and keeping tabs on older relatives. Men may be worried too, but just not talking about it, but thinking about it all the same.
Other findings from the Online Therapy Directory include:
People struggled with mental health more once we were around three to four months into the pandemic as opposed to early on. In addition to there being the highest number of new cases during this time, this may also be in part due to people expecting that the virus would have been gone—or at the very least starting to slow down—by this time.
Those aged 18-29 are struggling with their mental health during the pandemic, nearly half of respondents reported feelings of anxiety and depression. The OTD explains, younger people – who tend to experience more anxiety and depression, in general – may also be struggling more with the impacts of the lockdowns and other restrictions. In a matter of weeks, many young people went from regularly going out with friends, meeting new people, or experiencing life on a college campus to being stuck in their apartments or homes with limited or no in-person social interaction. The directory also mentioned through the nature of experience, older people have lived through pandemics before, such as widespread flu epidemics and when polio was rampant.
How the holiday really went will manifest in the incubation time for COVID-19 (10-14 days), which in turn will shape our Christmas and New Year’s plans, which will be more for us to worry about.