News Release

Vaccine Monitor: Women and Younger Adults Hit Hardest by Mental Health Impacts Due to COVID-19

Gender and age differences are revealed in a new analysis that finds nearly seven in ten (69%) young women ages 18 to 29 say the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted their mental health, compared to smaller shares of women who are older and men across all age groups.

By mid-2020 about half (53%) of adults reported that worry and pandemic-related stress had negatively impacted their mental health. Now with millions of U.S. residents getting vaccinated against COVID-19, the latest analysis from the KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor finds 47% of adults continue to report negative mental health impacts, and about a third of this group (or 15% of adults overall) report unmet needs for mental health care. The new report highlights recent data on the mental health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic across gender, age, race, and income. Key findings include:

  • Women, including mothers with children under 18, younger adults, and those in middle income groups are most likely to report their mental health has been negatively impacted as a result of the pandemic, compared to those 65 and older and men, including fathers with children under 18, who are least likely to report any mental health impact from the pandemic.
  • The groups most likely to be worried that they or a family member may get sick from COVID-19 are women, Black and Hispanic adults, and younger adults. Among those expressing this worry, nearly six in ten say it has negatively impacted their mental health, showing a direct link between worry and negative mental health impact.
  • Among mothers who say their mental health had been negatively impacted by the pandemic, nearly half (46%) report they did not get the mental health services or medications they needed, representing about one in four (27%) mothers overall.
  • Among adults who did not get the mental health care they may have needed in the past year, some of the biggest reasons include not being able to find a provider (24%), inability to afford the cost (23%), or being too busy or unable to take off work in order to seek treatment (18%).

The KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor is an ongoing research project tracking the public’s attitudes and experiences with COVID-19 vaccinations. Using a combination of surveys and qualitative research, this project tracks the dynamic nature of public opinion as vaccine development and distribution unfolds, including vaccine confidence and hesitancy, trusted messengers and messages, as well as the public’s experiences with vaccination.

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The independent source for health policy research, polling, and news, KFF is a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco, California.