Healthline Mental Health Index: Week of June 21 — U.S. Population

As new cases of the coronavirus rise again across several states, the most recent data collected as part of Healthline Media’s Mental Health Index in partnership with YouGov shows that health concerns and signs of anxiety and depression follow suit. Forty six percent of Americans express concerns for their health in the week of June 21, up 6% vs. a month ago. The percentage who exhibit signs of anxiety and depression, as measured by the PHQ-4 scale*, increases slightly for the first time since we started measuring it at the end of March.

Key Findings

  • Health status: 46% of U.S. adults express concerns for their health due to COVID-19, an increase of 6% vs. a month ago and trending up for the first time in the past 3 months.

    • People living with a health condition are most affected with 52% reporting concerns for their health in relation to the virus, compared to 30% of people without a health condition. Concerns increased by 7% vs. a month ago among this group while it remained flat among people without a health condition.

    • People living in the Midwest and the Northeast regions of the U.S. are more worried with 49% and 47% respectively reporting concerns for their health, compared to 45% of people living in the South and 42% of those in the West. Concerns are increasing the most in the Northeast (+7%), Midwest (+5%) and South (+5%) over the past month. 

  • Health questions: How seriously they could get sick if they contracted the virus remains Americans’ number one health question at 36%, increasing in prevalence for the first time since we started measuring people’s health questions at the end of March and up 5% vs. a month ago. This concern is followed by how to avoid getting sick at 31%, also on the rise compared to the previous month.

  • Mental health: 48% of Americans fall out of the normal range on the PHQ-4* anxiety and depression scale and 23% show signs of moderate to severe depression, increasing slightly (+3%) vs. a month ago and for the first time in 3 months since we started measuring it. 

Supporting Graphs

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*For reference, the four-item Patient Health Questionnaire-4 (PHQ-4) is a brief and validated questionnaire that consists of a two-item depression scale and a two-item anxiety scale. People are asked to indicate how often in the last 2 weeks they have been bothered by “feeling nervous, anxious, or on edge”; “not being able to stop or control worrying”; “little interest or pleasure in doing things”; and “feeling down, depressed, or hopeless.” The first two items provide a measure of anxiety, and the last two a measure of depression. Responses are scored from 0 to 3 with responses “not at all” scored as 0, “several days” as 1, “more than half the days” as 2, and “nearly every day” as 3. Scores equal or greater than 3 across the first 2 questions suggest anxiety. Scores equal or greater than 3 across the last two questions suggest depression. Total scores on the PHQ-4 scale are determined by adding together the scores of each of the four items and are rated as normal (0-2), mild (3-5), moderate (6-8), and severe (9-12).

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