Explainer A data-driven story that provides background, definition and detail on a specific topic.
When the novel coronavirus roared into the U.S., mental health took a back seat to physical health. The No. 1 priority was making sure hospitals wouldn’t be overwhelmed and that as many lives as possible could be saved. Schools closed, remote work became the norm, restaurants shuttered and getting together with friends was no longer possible. The news cycle spun with story after story highlighting the ever-increasing number of cases and deaths, while unemployment soared to levels not seen since the Great Depression.
Any one of these shifts could be expected to cause an increase in mental health issues. Put together, they created a perfect storm for a crisis. Experts speculated as much, and polls showed that many people seemed to intuitively grasp the mental toll of the pandemic. However, data on mental health metrics was scant; we didn’t know the magnitude of any changes in mental health issues, nor did we understand which groups of people were suffering more than others.
So I decided to collect data on mental health during the pandemic and compare it to data from before all of this happened. The differences were huge.
Based on an article by Jean Twenge for The Conversation: “New study shows staggering effect of coronavirus pandemic on America’s mental health.”
Jean M. Twenge is an American psychologist researching generational differences, including work values, life goals, and speed of development. She is a professor of psychology at San Diego State University, author, consultant, and public speaker.