The Pandemic Effect: Mental Health is as Important as Physical Health, Say 82% of Americans

Survey from Parade Media and Cleveland Clinic reveals that people grew emotionally during the pandemic and discovered new ways to cope with stress and anxiety
Published: Oct. 8, 2021 at 9:00 AM EDT

NEW YORK, Oct. 8, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- While the COVID-19 crisis has changed many aspects of our lives, the pandemic has given Americans a newfound appreciation for the importance of mental health, prompting many to feel emotionally stronger and develop healthy ways of handling challenging life experiences.

AMG Logo (PRNewsfoto/AMG/Parade)
AMG Logo (PRNewsfoto/AMG/Parade)
Celebrities who speak out about mental health spark almost half of Americans to check on family and friends' emotional wellbeing.

According to results of a 2021 Healthy Now survey1 commissioned by Parade Media and Cleveland Clinic, 82% of respondents strongly agree that mental health – long marginalized by many Americans – is just as important as physical health, a substantial increase over the 68% who strongly agreed in 20182. Plus, about 1/3 of Americans believe that dealing with the pandemic, despite its hardships and challenges, has made them emotionally stronger by:

  • Teaching them to be more empathetic toward others (33%)
  • Helping them learn positive coping behaviors to handle stress and anxiety (32%)
  • Increasing their desire to give back and help others (30%).

This emotional growth brings with it a newfound sense of inner strength among many Americans, as the study revealed that three quarters (74%) of Americans say the pandemic has made them feel more confident that they can handle any challenges life throws at them.

"I am heartened that the struggle and hardship we have been through over the last 18 months has helped destigmatize mental health and made it more of a priority for many Americans," said Lisa Delaney, SVP/Chief Content Officer, Parade Media. "Mental health IS health. Normalizing and elevating the conversation around mental health is a major step in improving access to important resources to support this crucial element of overall wellbeing."

Key Habits of Most Resilient Revealed

While many Americans have grown emotionally throughout the pandemic, its lingering effects continue to have an adverse impact. Americans are more likely to feel stressed, anxious and/or depressed during the fall 2021 phase of the pandemic (60%) than during fall 2020 3  (50%), while more than half (56%) feel their anxiety, depression and/or stress levels rise as the number of COVID-19 cases rise.

The survey revealed selected habits and behaviors shared by those Americans who did display resiliency despite these challenges. For instance, resilient people4 are more likely than the average American to:

  • Have a strong social support system (88% vs. 76%, respectively)
  • Make getting adequate sleep a priority (64% vs. 51%, respectively)
  • Make eating healthy a priority (58% vs. 48%, respectively)

"As the survey results reveal, resilient people are benefitting from coping mechanisms that can have a positive impact on mental as well as physical health," said Dawn Potter, PsyD, a psychologist with the Cleveland Clinic Center for Adult Behavioral Health. "By understanding the habits of resiliency, we can develop and adopt tools to bolster our ability to deal not just with the current pandemic crisis, but other challenges we face in life."

Celebrity Spokespeople Are Effective Mental Health Role Models

Celebrities who speak out about mental health have had a positive impact in destigmatizing the issue. Nearly half of Americans (46%) said that celebrities or other public figures opening up about their mental/emotional struggles helps them; and 39% feel empowered to share their own experiences upon hearing a celebrity or public figure address the topic. Further, 42% of Americans check on friends and family when a celebrity voices their feelings around mental and emotional health.

To amplify this finding and to coincide with the release of the survey results, Parade Media is hosting "Take a Mental Health Day" on October 8 at 9 a.m. ET. This free virtual event, in observance of World Mental Health Day on October 10, will feature celebrities including Rosario Dawson, Mayim Bialik, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Jordin Sparks and Jameel Jamil discussing their own techniques for staying mentally and emotionally healthy. Dr. Potter of Cleveland Clinic will also offer expert commentary and advice. The event will be streamed on Parade's YouTube channel  and on

Other survey results revealed these highlights:

  • About two-thirds (65%) of respondents agreed that the pandemic has made them feel more connected to their family and friends than ever before.
  • Three in 10 (30%) Americans stated they felt more kindness from strangers, family and/or friends since the easing of the COVID-19 restrictions.
  • More than half of consumers (52%) stated that the availability of the COVID-19 vaccine made their mental or emotional health better.
  • Compared to Parade/Cleveland Clinic's 2018 Healthy Now survey2, Americans are more likely today to believe that giving up social media will improve their health (either physically or mentally) (31% in 2021 vs. 17% in 2018).
  • Despite the emotional growth experienced by many Americans, some populations have not fared as well. For example, half (51%) of diabetes patients have developed unhealthy habits during the pandemic (compared to 43% of the average American).

For more information and full results, visit

Parade Media: Lisa Delaney,
Cleveland Clinic: Halle Bishop,

1 Parade Media and Cleveland Clinic partnered with an independent global market research provider to conduct a quantitative, online survey of 2,219 Americans, 18 years of age or older, living in the continental United States. The total sample is representative of the U.S. population in terms of age, gender, ethnicity, region, education and income. The online survey was completed between August 30 and September 13, 2021. The margin of error for the total sample at the 95% confidence level is +/- 2 percentage points.

2 Findings came from Parade & Cleveland Clinic's 2018 "What it Means to Be Healthy Now" survey, an online survey conducted between July 13 and 20, 2018 among a national sample consisting of 1,010 Americans 18 years of age and older, living in the continental United States. The sample surveyed was nationally representative in terms of age, gender, ethnicity, region and income.

3 Findings came from Parade Media & Cleveland Clinic's 2020 Healthy Now survey, an online survey conducted in June 2020 among a national sample consisting of 1,000 Americans,18 to 65 years of age, living in the continental United States. The sample surveyed was nationally representative in terms of age, gender, ethnicity, region and income.

4 For the purposes of this 2021 survey, "resilient Americans" were defined as those who rate their mental health high (4 or 5 on 5-pt scale) before the pandemic, during quarantine/lockdown for your state, after lock down/quarantine in their state was lifted and now AND agree (somewhat or strongly) with the statement: "I've been able to maintain a strong mental/mental state in the midst of the pandemic

About Parade Media
Parade Media develops and distributes premium content across digital, mobile, video, and print platforms. Its brands include Parade, Relish & Spry Living. Based in Nashville, Tenn., and New York, the company also creates custom content for major brand clients and retailers. Visit us at

About Cleveland Clinic
Cleveland Clinic – now in its centennial year – is a nonprofit multispecialty academic medical center that integrates clinical and hospital care with research and education. Located in Cleveland, Ohio, it was founded in 1921 by four renowned physicians with a vision of providing outstanding patient care based upon the principles of cooperation, compassion and innovation. Cleveland Clinic has pioneered many medical breakthroughs, including coronary artery bypass surgery and the first face transplant in the United States. U.S. News & World Report consistently names Cleveland Clinic as one of the nation's best hospitals in its annual "America's Best Hospitals" survey. Among Cleveland Clinic's 70,800 employees worldwide are more than 4,660 salaried physicians and researchers, and 18,500 registered nurses and advanced practice providers, representing 140 medical specialties and subspecialties. Cleveland Clinic is a 6,500-bed health system that includes a 173-acre main campus near downtown Cleveland, 19 hospitals, more than 220 outpatient facilities, and locations in southeast Florida; Las Vegas, Nevada; Toronto, Canada; Abu Dhabi, UAE; and London, England. In 2020, there were 8.7 million total outpatient visits, 273,000 hospital admissions and observations, and 217,000 surgical cases throughout Cleveland Clinic's health system. Patients came for treatment from every state and 185 countries. Visit us at Follow us at News and resources available at

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