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Pandemic Has Overburdened Parents Stressed Out: Poll

FRIDAY, May 22, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- If there's such a thing as a "new normal" during the coronavirus pandemic, it's a constant state of stress.

And it's particularly intense for many parents who are keeping house, working from home, and trying to keep their kids' online learning on track at the same time, according to a new online survey.

Nearly half (46%) of respondents who have kids younger than 18 said their average stress level is high these days. Only 28% of adults without minor children said the same, according to the online poll of more than 3,000 adults. It was conducted from April 24 to May 4.

The 2020 Stress in America poll is the first of at least three planned to gauge pandemic-related stress.

"The mental health ramifications of the coronavirus pandemic are immense and growing," said Arthur Evans Jr., chief executive officer of the American Psychological Association (APA), which sponsored the poll.

Other key findings:

  • With schools closed, nearly three-quarters (71%) of parents said managing distance/online learning for their kids is a significant source of stress.

  • Basic needs such as access to food and housing are more likely to be a significant stress for parents than for non-parents (70% versus 44%).

  • Two-thirds of parents said they are stressed out about access to health care services, compared to 44% of non-parents. They're also more upset about missing major milestones, such as weddings and graduations (63% for parents versus 43% for others).

While parents may be overwhelmed by the competing demands of a job, homeschooling and possible financial setbacks from the pandemic, Evans emphasized that their kids are taking note.

"Children are keen observers and often notice and react to stress or anxiety in their parents, caregivers, peers and community," he said. "Parents should prioritize their self-care and try their best to model healthy ways of coping with stress and anxiety."

Seven out of 10 respondents called the current economy a significant source of stress -- compared to 46% in last year's poll. Seventy percent also pointed to work as a significant stressor, compared with 64% in 2019.

APA said current stress levels are similar to those during the Great Recession of 2008.

And people of color seem to be especially hard hit by pandemic-related worries, the poll showed. \

That includes fear of getting the coronavirus (71% versus 59% of whites); being able to meet basic needs (61% versus 47%); and access to health care services (59% versus 46%).

About 2 in 5 Hispanic adults said their average level of pandemic-related stress during the past month was between 8 and 10 on a 10-point scale.

Hispanic adults were most likely to say they constantly or often feel stress due to the pandemic (37%). That compares to 32% of whites, 32% of blacks, 31% of Native Americans and 28% Asians.

Evans described the findings as a call to action.

"We need to prepare for the long-term implications of the collective trauma facing the population," he said in an APA news release. "On an individual level, this means looking out for one another, staying connected, keeping active and seeking help when necessary."

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on coping with stress during the coronavirus pandemic.

SOURCE: American Psychological Association, news release, May 21, 2020

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