Americans Haven’t Been Maintaining their Health During the Pandemic and Mental Health Has Taken Even More of a Backseat

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In a recent study by The Harris Poll on behalf of TIME, the overwhelming majority of Americans (58%) admitted to delaying routine medical services and health care appointments during the past three months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The most commonly delayed service was dental exams and cleanings (30%) followed by annual check-ups and physicals (27%), and eye exams (25%) — all key for maintaining and promoting overall health and well-being.

Fortunately, it appears Americans are using telemedicine to make up for some of these missed or delayed check-ins: Only 29% said they took advantage of telehealth services prior to the pandemic’s onset, but 51% reported using telehealth services since it began — indicating that the pandemic has helped to mainstream telehealth with consumers.

However, despite the uptick in telehealth usage, mental health appears to be taking a backseat — indicating either a gap in availability or a reluctance to seek mental health services remotely. Twenty-nine percent of Americans in the survey said they received mental health care prior to the pandemic, and yet only 24% report receiving this service since the pandemic’s start.

And for those who are seeking out mental health services right now, relationship problems were the number one motivator — 34% of consumers seeking out mental health care for this reason — with amped-up anxiety (29%) and increased depression (28%) not far behind.

Editor’s Note: In the original version of this article, the number of Americans admitting to delaying routine medical services and healthcare appointments due to the pandemic was incorrectly stated as 78%.

This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll February 12-15, 2021, among 1,093 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online. For more information on methodology, please contact Dami Rosanwo.

Download full data here.