Social Media and Mental Health: CVS Morning Consult Survey Shows Pros and Cons

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A greater share of Americans are concerned about their mental health now than at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new survey from CVS Health. In March, the country’s largest pharmacy chain entered into a partnership Morning consultation to survey 2,202 American adults.

In results of the survey Released Thursday, about 65% of respondents said they have experienced concerns about their own mental health or that of friends and family, compared to 59% in April 2022 and 50% in April 2020.

“I think the point is that we continue to see behavioral health being an increasing focus of the public,” Dr. Taft Parsons IIIsays vice president and chief psychiatrist of CVS Health Fortune. “[COVID-19] has not led to an elimination, but a decrease in the amount of stigma people had when talking about their emotional problems and behavioral health needs.”

Socialization is a way to cope with stress, says Parsons, and when people found themselves suddenly and prolongedly isolated, some turned to virtual mental health care: “Before the pandemic, I think a lot of people would just suffer in silence and not get the help get what they need.”

Nearly half of respondents, 48%, said they are likely to use mental wellness apps for treatment, while 55% said the same about therapy.

A majority of respondents, 77%, said they were concerned about mental well-being on a national scale. By comparison, 81% said the economy was also a major problem.

“We’re talking about things that are really top-of-mind,” says Parsons. “This is a dinner conversation; people are very concerned about it.”

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Respondents cited these issues as causes of anxiety:

  • Uncertainty about the future: 51%
  • Current events: 49%
  • Body Image/Physical Appearance: 35%

The survey results are consistent with a growing body of evidence increased rates of depression and anxietyespecially among young people, says Dr. Itai Danovitchchairman of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, who was not involved in the investigation.

“Those concerned about their mental health should recognize that we can strengthen our resilience by prioritizing self-care practices such as securing sleep, making time for exercise, reducing overuse of digital media and giving priority on quality time with friends and family,” says Danovitch. Fortune via email. “For individuals experiencing severe or persistent mood symptoms, it is critical to consult a healthcare provider as there are several effective treatment options that can be tailored to personal values ​​and preferences.”

Although the study methodology indicates that “data was weighted to approximate a target population of adults based on age, gender, education level, race, and region,” the published results were not stratified by these demographics. CVS Health provided Fortune Additional data shows that 81% of respondents aged 18 to 34 said they are concerned about their mental health or that of their loved ones, compared to 74% in 2022 and 62% in 2020. However, it is It is unclear how this relates to other age groups. groups.

Social media has pros and cons for mental health

Social media use impacts mental health in numerous positive and negative ways, according to the study results. About 36% of respondents said social media has taught them about mental health issues. Meanwhile, 37% said they believe social media has harmed society as a whole. A third said they are trying to spend less time on social media and have turned off app notifications.

“Many public figures have taken to social media to talk about the need for treatment and the fact that they are in treatment, telling their personal stories,” says Parsons. “From that point of view it’s a very good thing… it’s good that people can spread the word and spread it quickly.”

Parsons adds: “We’ve also seen some negative effects of that, from the point of view of people attributing stress and anxiety to things coming through Instagram and other social media – and also the way that this affects our overall ability to get influences. participate and work with circles of people who are different from us.”

About half of parents surveyed said they feel social media influences their children’s development and perception of the world. In addition, parents are more concerned about their children’s mental health (70%) than their physical health (66%).

“A growing body of evidence shows that, especially during childhood, the adverse effects of social media are significant and widespread,” Danovitch says. “We still have a significant way to go to effectively address these challenges.”

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If you need immediate mental health care, please contact the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.

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