May is Mental Health Awareness Month and Americans are facing record levels of stress and anxiety driven by external stressors outside their control things like inflation, political divisiveness and the war in Ukraine.
Health experts remind that there are healthy ways to cope.
“I always want to share with individuals that it’s OK to break the cycle,” says Jill Carlton, a licensed clinical mental health counselor and behavioral health associate manager with Aetna. “It’s OK not to be OK, and it’s OK to reach out for help.”
Two-thirds of Americans say their stress levels increased this past year due to soaring inflation and political divisiveness, while 6 in 10 cited increasing crime rates, according to a February 2022 Harris Poll conducted on behalf of CVS Health.
“We're seeing that the negative emotions from external threats that we can’t control, like inflation and the war in Ukraine, can lead to deeper despair,” Jill says.
While all Americans experience the rising stress levels, the perceived loss of control from external threats especially impacts younger adults (61%), Hispanic (55%) and Black (53%) respondents, according to the Harris Poll.
“It's certainly not a surprise that historically marginalized racial and ethnic groups would experience stress and anxiety at higher levels,” says Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Chief Health Equity Officer.
“That’s why it’s important to improve health equity, which is quite simply that everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible.”
An equitable health care system requires access to robust data to understand where disparities exist, Dr. Khaldun says. Once identified, CVS Health applies evidence-based resources to address inequities.
“We can do so much to really improve the trajectory of health care for people across the country, and particularly for underserved communities,” she says.