Report: Tennesseans Showing More Signs of Anxiety, Depression

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Tennesseans are showing more signs of anxiety and depression as the coronavirus pandemic continues, according to a recent report by a sociologist at East Tennessee State University.


The results are based on the most recent Tennessee Poll, an annual poll conducted by ETSU’s Applied Social Research Lab (ASRL), which is led by Kelly Foster.


The poll found that for the week of April 22nd through May 1st, 35 percent of respondents had symptoms of anxiety and 27 percent had symptoms of depressive disorder.

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More specifically, 50 percent of respondents reported trouble sleeping in the week prior to the poll, while 53 percent reported feeling nervous, anxious, or on edge that week. Forty-three percent felt lonely.


When thinking about the coronavirus, 18 percent of respondents reported having physical reactions, such as sweating, trouble breathing, or a pounding heart. This is similar to the national response to that question recently reported by the Pew Research Center, which showed 19 percent of respondents having physical reactions when thinking about the pandemic.


When these reactions occur more than half the days or nearly every day of the week, they are symptomatic of anxiety or depressive disorders, according to the CDC.


Even with a high number of participants reporting symptoms of anxiety or depression, the polls showed that 65 percent of respondents felt hopeful about the future “occasionally or most of the time.” That’s 15 percent more than the national results compiled by Pew, in which 50 percent of respondents reported feeling hopeful about the future.

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The report also compiled mental health scores of respondents based on their answers to questions about sleeping, mood, physical symptoms, and hopefulness. The average score was 18.9 out of 24. The charts below show how that score varied among different demographics, political affiliations, and employment status.


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Read more of the report here.

Mental Health Grant

The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse (TDMHSAS) received a $966,380 federal grant this week to support mental health needs during the pandemic.


“There are a lot of people out there, dealing with stress, anxiety, fear, and depression, who are hurting right now,” said Marie Williams, TDMHSAS commissioner. “ We want people to know that it’s OK to not feel OK right now and that help is available, and thanks to this grant, the department and our community providers will be able to help more people. We are grateful to our federal partners for this funding, and the department is committed to leveraging all available resources to support the needs of Tennesseans and the community providers who serve them.”


The grant is through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Crisis Counseling Training Program and will be used to provide outreach and support services in each of the state’s 95 counties.


Anyone who is experiencing a mental health crisis, should call the Tennessee Statewide Crisis Line at 855-274-7471. The hotline connects callers with trained crisis counselors who provide support and referrals to other community support. Find more information about available resources here.


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