According to the American Psychological Association’s annual “Stress in America” survey nearly 70% of Americans are stressed about the future of the country. The survey says that the current social and political environment is especially stressful for young people.
Mass shootings, rising #suicide rates, and #climatechange are among the top stressors for our nation’s youngest adults, according to our 12th annual Stress in America™ survey: https://t.co/7ign9gz6wB#stressAPA pic.twitter.com/ZFBrIq2qzY
— American Psychological Association (@APA) October 30, 2018
The annual survey covered thousands of Americans of all ages in all 50 states. It found that the number of people feeling stressed has increased by six percentage points from last year’s survey.
The APA report is coming out this year at a time of extraordinary stress caused by racially-based mass murders and pipe bombs mailed to Trump’s political enemies. In addition, we are nearing the end of a political campaign season that has been especially negative and stressful for all parties involved.
On top of that the President of the United States, who should be comforting and calming citizens of the country, is adding to the stress level. He has said the poor migrants are “invading” the United States and we are all at risk. He has said that “the fake news media” is the “enemy of the people.” He has implied that he supports white nationalism and racist positions.
As if that wasn’t enough, he has also denied the very real effects of climate change and appears to have sold out his country to Russia, one of our biggest enemies.
“The environment is very toxic,” Arthur C. Evans, the CEO of the American Psychological Association, said in an interview with The Washington Post.
He added that concern about the state of the country cut across party lines.
“A majority of Democrats, Republicans and independents see it that way,” Evans said. “People don’t believe current political environment is getting better and may in fact be getting worse.”
Although survey participants were not asked specifically about President Trump, Evans said that uncertainty magnifies and intensifies the stress that people are feeling.
“We have a leader who is not predictable and who does create a certain amount of uncertainty and stress for people,” Evans said.
Evans said stress can cause many physical and psychological problems such as stomach aches, headaches, and sleeplessness. If allowed to continue for too long stress also results in obesity, depression and cardiovascular problems.
Although most Americans fear for their country at this time, the survey also shows that they are overwhelmingly hopeful about the prospects for their own futures.
Perhaps once the national nightmare of the Trump presidency is over we can revert to the hope and optimism that were the hallmarks of the Obama years. To get us through this dark period we truly need “The Audacity of Hope.” And maybe that will be enough to carry us forward toward better times.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.