Mental health has not notably improved since winter, Northwestern-led national survey reports


Illustration by Emma Ruck

The consortium co-led by Northwestern researchers surveyed over 21,000 individuals between April 1 and May 3.

Yunkyo Kim, Campus Editor

A national survey co-led by Northwestern researchers found that despite an increase in vaccines and social activities, mental health issues remain prominent in respondents.

The consortium, a collaboration between NU, Harvard, Northeastern and Rutgers, surveyed over 21,000 individuals between April 1 and May 3, according to a University news release.

Among respondents, 28 percent indicated levels of depression that would lead to evaluation and treatment, a minor decrease from 30 percent from those surveyed last December.

Previous installments of the survey indicated a close connection between poor mental health and economic stress. The recent results challenge expectations that mental health may improve as the economy revitalizes and states and social activities reopen. 

In particular, young adults between ages 18 and 24 showed the steepest signs of mental health struggles, with 42 percent having moderate depression. Respondents 65 or older reported the lowest rates of depression, at 10 percent. 

“This is sobering news and likely reflects that young people are already dealing with much uncertainty at that stage of life; the pandemic thrown in exacerbates that,” co-author and political science Prof. James Druckman said in the release. 

The report highlighted racial mental health disparities. Latinx individuals indicated the highest rates of depression at 33 percent, and White, Black and Asian American respondents all reported depression at 27 percent. 

Notably, survey results also showed statistically significant differences depending on vaccine status. Individuals who reported moderate to severe depression were less likely to have received vaccines than those who were vaccinated at 51 and 32 percent, respectively. 

“This likely reflects a sense of control over uncertainty among those vaccinated,” Druckman said in the release.

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