New Survey on Pandemic’s Effects Reveals Mixed State of Mind for Essential Workers, Boomers and Millennials
Many are anxious or down but finding silver linings amidst challenges; essential workers and boomers
SAN FRANCISCO, August 04, 2020 − A survey conducted by Woebot Health of 2,108 Woebot digital therapy users reveals that some of the groups most affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, including essential workers and older populations, are faring better than others, while people 25 and younger report more sadness and anxiety than any age group. However, there is a flip side to the pandemic story: many respondents also say the situation has helped them identify personal strengths, increase their appreciation of life, and strengthen their interpersonal relationships or spiritual connections.
“In a world where we’re hit each day with such bad news about Covid-19—its transmission, its growing numbers, its mutations—it’s wonderful to see that we can admit pain, but also simultaneously find and even cultivate hope,” said Athena Robinson, Ph.D., Woebot Health’s Chief Clinical Officer and Adjunct Clinical Associate Professor at Stanford University. “I’m humbled by what we’re seeing in the lived experiences of our users: the human capacity to navigate tough experiences and find meaning in persistently difficult and uncertain times.”
The Mixed State of Mind
Most respondents report high stress and anxiety levels. Specifically, almost three quarters (71 percent) have found that changes in their way of life given the pandemic are moderately, very, or extremely stressful while more than half (58 percent) said they are bothered by being nervous, anxious or “on edge” more than half of days or nearly every day. Moreover, 42 percent indicate that their mental health has worsened “very much” or “extremely.”
But there are also positive personal outcomes for Woebot users, who are using chat-based digital therapy as the pandemic spreads worldwide. The majority of respondents (69 percent) say the pandemic has created new possibilities and strengthened their relationships with others or community (70 percent). Nearly 80 percent say it has helped them increase their appreciation of life. The pandemic has also helped nearly three quarters (73 percent) of respondents identify personal strengths, and for more than half (59 percent), it has created spiritual change.
Essential Workers Faring Better Than Most
One in five survey respondents classify themselves as essential workers and report similar levels of pandemic impact (i.e., stress due to lifestyle changes, feelings, and changes in mental health), as other respondents, though they appear to be faring better in several ways. Fewer essential workers report being bothered by feeling down, depressed, or hopeless nearly every day (essential workers: 19 percent; all other respondents: 27 percent). Essential workers also report a lower rate of extreme anxiety, with 22 percent saying they have been bothered by not being able to stop or control worrying nearly every day, compared to 27 percent for all other respondents. “The difference could be because these people are among the most engaged in work for their communities and helping others in need,” Dr. Robinson said.
Millennials and Gen-Z More Anxious Than Boomers
A mix of Millennials and Gen-Z (overall ages 17-25) report the highest levels of anxiety and low mood, and their responses contrast most significantly with Boomers who are 65 or more. About 62 percent of the younger group is bothered by feeling nervous, anxious, or on edge more than half the days or nearly every day, more than three times the rate of older respondents (20 percent). More than half (56 percent) of younger respondents also report not being able to stop or control worrying more than half the time or nearly every day, nearly twice that of older respondents (30 percent). As for low mood, more than one-third of younger respondents (35 percent) have been bothered by little interest or pleasure in doing things nearly every day, triple the rate for the older group (10 percent), and 59 percent of younger users say they have felt bothered by feeling down, depressed or hopeless more than half the days or nearly every day, double the number for the older group (30 percent).
“These differences may be because it’s relatively less disruptive for older, potentially retired, people to stay at home, while younger respondents face significant life adjustments and likely fewer job options,” Dr. Robinson said. “We must continue to decrease the stigma surrounding mental illness and create a safe environment for people to seek help, whether with a psychiatrist, psychologist, and/or digital therapy.”
The initial survey is part of a series of Woebot Health surveys that will review the immediate and longer-term effects of Covid-19 on mental health. The snapshot is being released six months after Woebot users first mentioned the coronavirus, around the same time that the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Covid-19 a pandemic.
The data come from a longitudinal survey approved by an Institutional Review Board (IRB) and administered within the Woebot app. The study launched June 3, 2020; enrollment concluded July 6, 2020. A baseline sample of 2,108 Woebot users are included in this snapshot, nearly half (47 percent) of whom disclosed their age.
Woebot Health’s Covid-19 survey infographics
About Woebot Health
Woebot Health, formerly Woebot Labs, was founded in 2017 to help people experiencing mental health concerns or conditions to achieve better outcomes. The company works with government entities, healthcare providers and employers to provide a full suite of clinically-validated interventions, from its flagship wellness app Woebot to clinical-grade solutions and condition-specific content. Headquartered in San Francisco, Woebot Health is funded in part by venture capital firms New Enterprise Associates (NEA) and Jazz Venture Partners, L.P., with participation from Andrew Ng’s AI Fund. For more information, please visit Woebot Health or follow Woebot on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Margot Carlson Delogne
Communications, Woebot Health