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Survey: High Stress From Coronavirus Is New Normal for Parents

Nearly half of parents of children under age 18 say their stress levels related to the coronavirus pandemic are high, with managing their kids’ online learning the number one source of stress for many, according to a new survey by the American Psychological Association.

As the global COVID-19 pandemic continues and parents juggle child care, work, and schooling demands, the mental health toll on parents is growing, APA officials warned. At the same time, the proportion of Americans saying that the economy or work is a significant source of stress in their life has risen significantly, officials added.

“For many parents, it can feel overwhelming to face competing demands at home and work, along with possible financial challenges during this unprecedented crisis,” said Arthur C. Evans Jr., Ph.D., APA’s chief executive officer. “Children are keen observers and often notice and react to stress or anxiety in their parents, caregivers, peers and community. Parents should prioritize their self-care and try their best to model healthy ways of coping with stress and anxiety.”

The Stress in America 2020 Stress in the Time of Coronavirus, Volume 1, was conducted online by The Harris Poll from April 24 to May 4, 2020. It surveyed 3,013 adults over the age of 18 who live in the United States. This is the first of at least three monthly surveys APA and The Harris Poll plan to gauge the impact of the pandemic on stress, according to APA officials.

The survey found that 46 percent of parents say their average stress level related to the coronavirus pandemic is high (between eight and 10 on a 10-point scale where 1 means “little or no stress” and 10 means “a great deal of stress”). Only 28 percent of adults who don’t have children under the age of 18 report similar levels of stress, according to the survey.

With schools closed and many parents working from home while coordinating their children’s schedules, 71 percent of parents say managing distance and online learning for their children is a significant source of stress.

Parents are more likely than people without children to say basic ne, such as access to food and housing, are a significant source of stress (70 percent compared with 44 percent). Other significant stressors for parents include access to health care services (66 percent vs. 44  percent) and missing major milestones, such as weddings and graduation ceremonies (63 percent vs. 43 percent), according to the survey’s findings.

As unemployment numbers reach record highs, the economy and work have increased as stressors for Americans, the survey discovered. It found that the economy is a significant source of stress for 70 percent of adults, compared with 46 percent in APA’s 2019 Stress in America poll.

Current stress levels are similar to the levels seen in the 2008 Stress in America poll during the Great Recession, APA officials note.

Similarly, seven in 10 employed adults say work is a significant source of stress in their lives, compared with 64 percent in the 2019 survey, APA officials report.

Pandemic-related stress is having a disproportionate impact on communities of color, the survey discovered. People of color are more likely than white adults to report significant stressors in their life as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, namely getting coronavirus (71 percent vs. 59 percent), basic ne (61 percent vs. 47 percent), and access to health care services (59 percent vs. 46 percent).

Slightly more than two in five Hispanic adults (41 percent) say their average level of stress related to the coronavirus pandemic during the past month was between eight and 10. Hispanic adults are also most likely to say they constantly or often feel stress as a result of the pandemic (37 percent), as compared with white (32 percent), black (32 percent), Native American (31 percent), and Asian (28 percent) adults.

“The mental health ramifications of the coronavirus pandemic are immense and growing,” Evans warned. “We need to prepare for the long-term implications of the collective trauma facing the population. On an individual level, this means looking out for one another, staying connected, keeping active and seeking help when necessary.”

Source: American Psychological Association