mental heatlh
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"Worse than it has been at any point in the last two decades," the pollsters said about the findings.

Just when you think it can't get any worse, it does.

Americans have essentially been on lockdown since at least March, when government officials across the country ordered statewide shutdowns. But even nine months later, little is back to normal, as restaurants and bars operate (if they can) on limited occupancy, airlines are running skeleton schedules and workers have gone mostly virtual.

Now Gallup, a top U.S. pollster, says the whole mess is severely affecting the mental health of Americans.

"Americans' latest assessment of their mental health is worse than it has been at any point in the last two decades. Seventy-six percent of U.S. adults rate their mental health positively, representing a nine-point decline from 2019," Gallup reported on Monday.

Each year since 2001, Gallup has asked Americans as part of its November Health and Healthcare survey to say whether their own mental or emotional wellbeing is excellent, good, only fair or poor.

"The reading for those rating their mental health as excellent or good ranged from 81% to 89% until this year's 76%," Gallup wrote. "Although the majority of U.S. adults continue to rate their mental health as excellent (34%) or good (42%), and far fewer say it is only fair (18%) or poor (5%), the latest excellent ratings are eight points lower than Gallup has measured in any prior year."

The pollster said the COVID-19 pandemic is only partly to blame, adding that the findings "may also reflect views of the Nov. 3 election and the state of race relations, both of which were on Americans' minds this year."

Among the groups for which the rating dropped by double digits were "women, Republicans, independents, those who attend religious services less than weekly, White adults, those who are unmarried, older adults, and lower-income Americans."

Democrats and frequent churchgoers showed the least change in their mental health ratings, Gallup wrote.