How quickly Americans forget…
According to a recent survey by the American Psychological Association, a majority of Americans believe that we are currently living through the lowest point in US history that they can remember…eclipsing such watershed moments as the Watergate Scandal, the Bush administration’s dishonest justification for a war with Iraq, and - oh yeah - World War II and Vietnam, according to Bloomberg.
The APA’s eleventh “Stress in America” survey found that 60% of respondents believe the early Trump era is the lowest point in US history, while a slightly larger percentage - 63% - say they are stressed about the nation's future.
Almost two-thirds of Americans, or 63 percent, report being stressed about the future of the nation, according to the American Psychological Association’s Eleventh Stress in America survey, conducted in August and released on Wednesday. This worry about the fate of the union tops longstanding stressors such as money (62 percent) and work (61 percent) and also cuts across political proclivities. However, a significantly larger proportion of Democrats (73 percent) reported feeling stress than independents (59 percent) and Republicans (56 percent).
The “current social divisiveness” in America was reported by 59 percent of those surveyed as a cause of their own malaise.
When the APA surveyed Americans a year ago, 52 percent said they were stressed by the presidential campaign. Since then, anxieties have only grown.
A majority of the more than 3,400 Americans polled, 59 percent, said “they consider this to to be the lowest point in our nation’s history that they can remember.” That sentiment spanned generations, including those that lived through World War II, the Vietnam War, and the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. (Some 30 percent of people polled cited terrorism as a source of concern, a number that’s likely to rise given the alleged terrorist attack in New York City on Tuesday.)
The economy (35 percent) and trust in government (32 percent) also ranked highly, as did hate crimes (31 percent) and crime in general (31 percent).
The survey didn’t specifically ask about President Trump, and APA Chief Arthur Evans said the “acrimony in the public discourse” and “the general feeling that we are divided as a country” were cited as being more important than any particular person or political party. However, it’s difficult to imagine, given the divisiveness of his policies, that Trump didn’t loom large over these answers.
“We have a picture that says people are concerned,” said Arthur Evans, APA’s chief executive officer. “Any one data point may not not be so important, but taken together, it starts to paint a picture.”
Ironically, Some 43 percent of respondents said healthcare was the largest source of stress - this after President Trump and his Republican Congress have repeatedly failed to repeal and replace Obamacare. This result is more evidence that Americans are deeply dissatisfied with the contemporary US health-care system after a series of debilitating insurance-rate hikes that have been imposed across the country since the law took effect.
More recently, Trump has cancelled federal subsidies to insurers, virtually guaranteeing that the pain felt by consumers will only worsen unless the law is scrapped. However, some of that anxiety could be due to the aging of the Baby Boomer generation.
The APA chalked the stress up to “policy uncertainty” - an antiseptic explanation that ignores the fact that most Americans don’t pay attention to “policy”, unless it directly affects them in a way that’s impossible to ignore.
“Policymakers need to understand that this is an issue that is important to people, that the uncertainty is having an impact on stress levels, and that stress has an impact on health status,” Evans said, pointing out that the relationship between stress and health is well-established.
But in perhaps the most telling revelation from the study, most Americans—56 percent—said they want to stay informed, but the news causes them stress, while even more, 72 percent, said “the media blows things out of proportion” - suggesting that the alarmist news coverage that has prevailed on cable news networks since the election is having a deleterious impact on the American psyche.
Women are also feeling more stressed than men, according to the study. While women normally report higher levels of stress than men, stress rates have in the past typically risen in tandem. However, this year, they diverged: On a 10-point scale, women reported a slight increase in stress, rising from an average 5.0 in 2016 to 5.1 in 2017, while the level for men dropped, from an average 4.6 to 4.4.
Racial divides also exist in reported stress. While the levels among blacks and Hispanics were lower in 2016 than the year before, they rose for both groups in 2017, to 5.2 for Hispanic adults and 5.0 for black adults. Among whites, meanwhile, the average remained the same, at 4.7.
However, there’s at least one silver lining: 51 percent of Americans say they have been inspired to volunteer due to the current state of the nation.