It’s OK to get help

A woman sits with her hands over her mouth in a subway station.

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.

How Americans are coping with external stressors.
Where do you fit?

47% Trying to live normally
41% Staying active
38% Connecting with friends, family
30% Safely socializing
24% Learning new hobbies

Source: Harris Poll March 2022 

Coping Tips

Expanding access to mental health resources is one of those opportunities. “Mental health and well-being is really one of the huge focus areas for us.”

To that end, CVS Health provides Aetna members with 24/7 access to free emotional support through its Resources for Living program and offers virtual telehealth options for mental health services. The company also offers mental health counseling with licensed therapist clinicians at MinuteClinic® locations inside select CVS HealthHUB™ stores.

We can also practice our own coping skills, says Jill. “Learning to really focus on self-care is so important. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health."

In recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month, the CVS Health Foundation has committed to provide additional support to organizations focused on equitable, quality access to mental health care services and resources, including the National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and Mental Health America. Learn more.

This article is part of the CVS Health-Harris Poll National Health Project which explores health attitudes and perceptions covering a wide range of relevant and timely topics.