Press Release - State of Mental Health in America

Welcome to Anxious America: New National Survey from Project Healthy Minds Reveals 96% of Young Adults Are Experiencing Anxiety

  • Project Healthy Minds® launches inaugural survey series on the mental health of Americans aged 18 – 34 years old
  • 64% of employees now prioritize mental health support when making career decisions, making employee mental health one of the fast-emerging issues for companies to address today
  • Women report their mental health worsening at rates nearly 30% higher than men
  • 68% of LGBTQ+ community rate their mental health as “fair or poor”

New York, January 27, 2020 — Project Healthy Minds, a millennial-driven mental health non-profit, today released data from its inaugural survey, “State of Mental Health in America,” which reveals the troubling depth and breadth of anxiety affecting young adults’ mental health.

Even as the U.S. election results became known and promising news about a vaccine to address the coronavirus pandemic emerged, an astounding 96 percent of those surveyed were experiencing anxiety, and nearly half, 48 percent, were experiencing it “all the time” or “frequently.” In fact, the more than 1,000 respondents – who are between the ages of 18 and 34 – said the pandemic was exacerbating the underlying and growing mental health crisis, with one in four rating their mental health as “fair” or “poor” and 38 percent saying their mental health had worsened versus the same time last year. In addition, 62 percent reported being concerned about the mental health of their friends.

Phillip Schermer, Founder & CEO of Project Healthy Minds, explains, “This survey shows that America is living on the brink. At a moment when lines for food banks stretch around the block, COVID-19 infection rates are skyrocketing, and Americans are increasingly socially isolated, we can see the alarming effects on the mental health of our generation.”

The results are part of a new initiative launched by Project Healthy Minds, which will conduct the national survey on a bi-annual basis to better capture the pulse of young Americans struggling with mental health issues. The primary goal will be to help business leaders, clinicians, telehealth entrepreneurs, and policymakers better understand the crisis as they develop solutions to address the problem.

“There has been a sea change in the U.S. regarding the importance of mental health, and it is being led by the millennial generation. More than ever before in the U.S., we see a willingness to understand, express and prioritize mental health issues among emerging adults. This will change the way that employers hire, physicians practice, and people live their lives,” said Dr. Bernice Pescosolido, Founding Director of the Indiana Consortium for Mental Health Services Research, Chair of the U.S. National Stigma Studies, Distinguished and Chancellor’s Professor of Sociology at Indiana University, and Project Healthy Minds advisor.

The survey revealed a novel trend: heightened employee expectations of their employers when it comes to mental health support. Two in three employees now consider their mental health during their job hunt when evaluating employers and roles. However, employees are noticing that employers are not keeping up: less than half of men and women feel that their employers support mental health. And only 26% of respondents say employers have implemented new mental health programs during the pandemic.

Dr. John Greden, Founding Chairman of the National Network of Depression Centers, Founder of the world’s first Depression Center at the University of Michigan and Project Healthy Minds advisor, explains, “What this survey reveals is that in the face of an avalanche of depression and anxiety cases, the time has arrived for business leaders to become proactive and support their employees’ mental health. It’s good for employees – and good for the company’s bottom line.”

While the mental health landscape is bleak overall, the survey revealed that women and the LGBTQ+ community have been hit even harder. One in three young women in America rate their mental health as poor. And it is getting worse: 44 percent of women say their mental health worsened vs. this time last year.

The challenges were even more acute for the LGBTQ+ community. Two out of three LGBTQ+ individuals rate their mental health as poor. And the trend is worsening: 53 percent of LGBTQ+ respondents say mental health declined vs. this time last year.

The barriers to mental health treatment are numerous but two stand out: cost and stigma. Thirty-two percent of respondents said that therapy is too expensive and a barrier to getting help for mental health issues. The stigma of therapy also was noted as a barrier especially among people of color, with twice as many Hispanic and Black respondents ranking stigma as their top concern.

Key Findings:

Anxiety is experienced near universally among young Americans

  • Nearly all (96%) respondents 18-34 years old report experiencing anxiety in their lives today, with almost half (48%) saying they experience feeling anxiety frequently or all the time.

Work and financial security are the primary drivers of anxiety for young people

  • 40% of respondents cite work/financial security as the primary sources of anxiety

Next-gen employees are prioritizing mental health at work

  • 2-in-3 young people consider mental health when evaluating jobs and employers

Employers have much more work to do to support employee mental health

  • Only 37% of women agree employers support their mental health vs. 49% of men
  • Only 26% say employers have implemented new programs during the pandemic

Young women and members of the LGBTQ+ community are suffering even worse

  • 1 in 3 women and 2 in 3 in LGBTQ+ community rate their mental health as poor
  • 44% (women) and 53% (LGBTQ+) say mental health worsened vs. this time last year

Majority of young adults have never met with a therapist

  • Cost is the primary barrier: 32% say therapy is “too expensive”
  • 21% are concerned about stigma or afraid to talk to someone

COVID-19 pandemic continues to raise fears about the future

  • Nearly 1 in 2 feel anxious about the possibility of new lockdowns or restrictions
  • Majority (51%) say COVID-19 made it harder to get services and support

Survey Methodology

  • 1056 respondents
  • Young adults in U.S. (18-34)
  • 27 questions
  • MoE +/- 3.041%
  • Fielded 11/15/20 via Surveymonkey Audience

See full results here

About Project Healthy Minds

Project Healthy Minds is a millennial-driven non-profit startup focused on tackling one of the defining issues of our generation: the growing mental health crisis. Project Healthy Minds builds anti-stigma campaigns that change attitudes, technology that makes it easier and faster to discover help, and programs and partnerships that expand access to care.

To learn more, please visit:

Media Contact:

Robby Tepper

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