The impact of coronavirus on mental health and relationships

Jamie BallardData Journalist
April 01, 2021, 12:30 PM GMT+0

For many Americans, the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a significant toll on their mental health, their relationships, and their friendships.

Data from the YouGov Personality Study 2021 finds close to half (46%) of Americans say the events surrounding coronavirus have had a negative impact on their mental health.

Americans over 55 (40%) are less likely than those who are 35-to 54-years old or 18-to 34-years-old (both 51%) to say the pandemic has had a negative impact on their mental health.

About one-third (34%) of Americans say the pandemic hasn’t affected their mental health. Adults over 55 (49%) are especially likely to feel this way.

About one in 11 Americans (9%) say the events surrounding COVID-19 have actually had a positive impact on their mental health.

Most Americans have felt anxious at least a few times a month during the pandemic

Since the beginning of the pandemic, about one in five (19%) Americans say they’ve felt anxious most (12%) or all (7%) of the time. Another 14% say they’ve felt anxious a few times a week, and 21% have experienced anxiety a few times a month.

Women (24%) are nine points more likely than men (15%) to say they’ve felt anxious most or all of the time since the beginning of the pandemic.

Younger Americans are more likely to say they’re struggling with anxiety. Among 18-34 year olds, 17% say they’ve felt anxious most of the time, and 11% say they have felt anxious all the time.

Some Americans may be experiencing heightened anxiety because of lockdown measures which have been in place in many states for several months. Though restrictions are largely lifting as the vaccine rollout continues, many Americans still aren’t comfortable venturing out into the world.

As of mid-March, when this study was conducted, 40% of Americans say they feel uncomfortable leaving their home, including 36% of men and 44% of women.

Coronavirus has created distance between friends - but some have gotten closer with their partner

Whether it’s because of social distancing restrictions, disagreements over COVID-19 safety, or other things entirely, it’s clear that many Americans feel they’ve grown apart from their friends over the last year.

About two in five (43%) Americans say they feel they’ve grown more distant from their close friends since March 2020. Fewer (27%) say there’s been no real difference, and about one in five (18%) say they’ve gotten closer with their close friends. A small percentage (8%) say they don’t have anyone they would consider a close friend in the first place.

US adults under 35 are especially likely to have experienced changes in their close friendships. About half (49%) say they have grown more distant from their close friends since March 2020. Far fewer (21%) say they’ve gotten closer, and just 13% say there has been no difference.

When it comes to romantic relationships, one-third (33%) of coupled Americans say they’ve gotten closer with their partner during the pandemic. Fewer (13%) say they’ve gotten more distant from their partner during the last year. But the most common response is that there’s been no significant change, with 44% saying this has been the case for them.

Against all odds, a few (6%) Americans even managed to start a relationship during the pandemic. Among 18-to 34-year-olds, 14% began a relationship within the last year.

See full results here.

Related: Americans are feeling especially lonely during COVID-19

Methodology: Total sample size was 2,242 US adults 18+. Fieldwork was undertaken between March 11 – 15, 2021. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all US adults (aged 18+).

Image: Gender Spectrum Collection