America This Week: Society’s Drain on Youth Mental Health, Longing to Unplug, Marathon Job Interviews, and the Sketchy Way We Lose Medicaid Benefits

The latest trends in culture and society from The Harris Poll.

This weekly newsletter originated to track Covid in America. That was one hundred and eighty weeks ago. And while our attention turned to Ukraine, inflation, and bank failures, The CDC says a new COVID variant, EG.5 (nicknamed Eris), now makes up most new infections nationwide. And we noted a public uptick in concern in our America This Week survey, fielded from August 4th to 6th, among 2,047 Americans: Nearly 6 in 10 (57%) are concerned about a new COVID-19 variant (up from 48% in mid-May).

Four new Harris Polls caught our eyes this week: Concerningly, Gen Z’s mental health crisis is spiking from concerns over divisiveness, climate, and other existential societal threats. Also, do you wish for a pre-cellphone era? You’re not alone. Next, we ask how many interviews are too many as the hiring process is slowing in Corporate America. And we finish by calling attention to a growing number of Medicaid recipients (especially seniors) who are losing their coverage by lapsing without being notified, which we think is a little sketchy.

You can download the new ATW monthly summary tabs and June deck here.

Society’s Drain on Youth Mental Health: Blue Shield of California-Harris Poll

Large-scale sociopolitical issues are causing adverse mental health effects on the country’s younger population, in our latest research in partnership with Blue Shield of California in Fierce Healthcare

  • As students head back to school, nearly nine out of ten Gen Z (87%) say they are experiencing mental health challenges regularly, and 6 in 10 (58%) report experiencing anxiety regularly.
  • They feel weighed down by socio-political issues: Gun violence (69%), racial and social injustice (54%), and climate change (44%).
  • Taking steps to improve their well-being: Fortunately, more than three in four (78%) say they have talked about their emotions and mental health with others in the past year, and (71%) have used resources to help address mental health challenges. (Other data from our APA studies show how youth are ‘de-stigmatizing’ mental health by actively discussing it and engaging others to seek it).
  • However, youth face barriers in accessing care: 6 in 10 (61%) report experiencing barriers in accessing professional mental health care, such as saying it’s challenging to find someone they relate to and believing they cannot afford mental health care. 

Takeaway: “To help future generations succeed, we must ensure access to high-quality and culturally relevant mental health supports, particularly for youth from marginalized communities. This includes improving mental health care on school campuses and community centers and bolstering peer support,” said Antoinette Mayer, vice president of Corporate Citizenship and co-founder of BlueSky, Blue Shield of California’s youth mental health initiative. “While it’s encouraging that youth are taking action to improve their emotional well-being, more can be done to reduce stigma and to empower youth to speak up.”

Longing For a Pre-Cell Phone Life: Fast Company-Harris Poll

According to a new Harris Poll shared exclusively with Fast Company, most Americans would prefer to live in a simpler era before everyone was obsessed with screens and social media, and this sentiment is powerful among older millennials and Gen Xers.

  • Asked whether they would like to return to a time before humanity was “plugged in” – meaning before people had internet and smartphones – (77%) of Americans aged 35-54 said they would, the highest of any group.
  • Even among younger respondents with no memory of a world before social media: (63%) of 18-34-year-olds agreed.

Harris Poll/Fast Company June 2023

  • Anti-progress or just overwhelmed? While Americans may want to unshackle themselves from the burden of constant connectivity, an overwhelming (90%) said that being open-minded about new technologies is essential. But, over half said they found keeping up with new technologies overwhelming, and the same said they believe technology is more likely to divide people than unite.

Takeaway: “Conducted earlier this month, the poll comes as ChatGPT and other rapidly advancing generative-AI tools threaten to upend white-collar work, while Big Tech companies such as Apple and Meta are ramping up a hardware arms race that would have humanity forever stumbling around their living rooms in oversized mixed-reality goggles. Is it any wonder why many of us yearn for an unplugged world?” (Fast Company)

Why Are Interviews Dragging On and On? Express Employment Professionals-Harris Poll

According to our survey with Express Employment Professionals in, job seekers and candidates should brace for a lengthy interview process.

  • American job seekers and employers agree that multiple interviews are necessary when filling open positions. Still, while candidates say two should suffice, some hiring managers believe that number should be closer to five.
  • Four in ten hiring managers (40%) say candidates can expect to go through two interviews before receiving an offer, while (15%) say job seekers can expect to go through five or more interviews at their company.
  • Taking too long to extend an employment offer, however, could have consequences: Job seekers say the drawbacks include the additional time added to the process (52%), delays landing a job (45%), additional costs (39%), and the possibility of accepting another job offer (32%). Some may become fatigued or disillusioned with the business (27%).

Takeaway: “Companies believe if they slow up or add more steps in the interview process, they will have a better chance at identifying these applicants,” says Alyssa Chumbley, an Express franchise owner. “However, the talent competition is still fierce, so dragging out the timeframe of hiring people may not be the best solution to compete in this market.”

One-third of Medicaid Members Say Health Plan Didn’t Reach Out About Renewing Coverage: Icario-Harris Poll

New research with Icario in Fierce Healthcare finds many Medicaid members haven’t heard from their health plan to renew coverage – a problem as the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) previously estimated that up to 6.8 million who still qualify will become automatically disenrolled if they don’t complete recertification.

  • More than one-third of Medicaid members (35%) said their health plan didn’t reach out about renewing their coverage to keep their Medicaid benefits for the upcoming year.
  • And it’s even more among older adults: Over half (55%) of Medicaid members aged 65 and older did not receive outreach from their plans in our survey.
  • Why? During the pandemic, enrollees did not need to recertify their eligibility to maintain benefits. But once the public health emergency ended in May, consumers and states grew concerned at the prospect of significant enrollment losses and the consequences that would follow.
  • Affording and accessing health insurance isn’t a guarantee for Americans: According to previous America This Week polling, nearly a fifth (18%) report being unable to afford healthcare due to inflation (Millennials: 26%, <$50k HHI: 22%), and (13%) said they even lost access to their health insurance (Gen Z: 21%, Millennials: 20%).

Takeaway: “It’s on health plans to engage with members and educate them on what needs to happen to avoid being disenrolled, and the survey results indicate a significant number of plans aren’t doing so sufficiently,” said Troy Jelinek, chief commercial officer at Icario.

Download the Data

This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by The Harris Poll from August 4th to 6th among a nationally representative sample of 2,047 U.S. adults.

John Gerzema headshot

John Gerzema


Download the Data

This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by The Harris Poll from August 4th to 6th among a nationally representative sample of 2,047 U.S. adults.


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