Friday Five – 5 Takeaways from the Harris Poll on Mental Health
Oct. 10 is Mental Health Day, a time to pay more attention to mental health and broaden the public’s understanding of the association between mental and physical health.
Mental health was thrust into the spotlight during the COVID-19 pandemic as the social isolation associated with the virus led to a 25% growth in the prevalence of anxiety and depression, according to the World Health Organization. In fact, during the 2020 peak of the pandemic, mental health visits represented 40% of telehealth visits, according to Kaiser Health News.
According to the results of a recent Harris Poll, however, this mental health crisis may also be contributing to another public health crisis: neuromusculoskeletal pain. This week’s Friday Five offers five takeaways from the Harris Poll on Mental Health courtesy of the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress (@F4CP), a not-for-profit organization with nearly 32,000 members that informs and educates the general public about the value of chiropractic care delivered by doctors of chiropractic (DCs) and its role in drug-free pain management.
Poor Mental Health Worsens Physical Pain
The Harris Poll, conducted on behalf of the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress (F4CP) in June, found nearly half of U.S. adults (44%) report that they have experienced physical pain that they believe was worsened due to mental or emotional pain.
“The link between mental health and physical pain is well established in the healthcare community,” said Sherry McAllister, DC, president of F4CP. “Everyone suffers from pain at some point in their life and it is up to the entire healthcare community to not just treat symptoms, but rather identify and manage all of the root causes of these conditions whether they be in the bones, nervous system, muscles or mind.”
Young People Suffer More
The Harris Poll shows that more than half of 18-to-34-year-old (53%) and 35-to-44-year-old participants (61%) have experienced physical pain that they believe was worsened by mental or emotional pain. Only 23% of participants 65 years of age and older report that mental or emotional pain worsened their physical pain.
“Younger adults consume much more technology, both during work and personal time,” said Dr. McAllister. “Scientific correlations are linking the mass use of technology in the
last 30 years with the upsurge of anxiety and depression that we are seeing across the globe. In the chiropractic profession, we have long recognized the role of thoughts, trauma and toxins, which we refer to as ‘the 3T’s’ in the realm of health and disease. Technology in this sense has become a toxin that also affects our thoughts and drives behaviors.”
Women’s Pain is Worse
Women report worse physical pain (69%) due to mental or emotional pain compared to men (39%). Men ages 65 and older least often reported greater physical pain due to mental or emotional pain (17%).
Clinical research has demonstrated differences between men and women in pain sensitivity and response to pain management. Research has also found women experience greater clinical pain, suffer greater pain-related distress and show heightened sensitivity to experimentally induced pain compared with men, which may also account for the variation in poll responses.
Northeast U.S. Has Highest Mind-Body Pain Link
49% of poll participants in the northeast region of the U.S. reported greater physical pain due to emotional or mental pain compared to 40% of poll participants in the western region of the country.
“A number of factors could play a role in the geographic disparity,” Dr. McAllister says, “including weather, with some research showing more sunlight being associated with lower depression.” Paradoxically, since the northeast U.S. has better access to mental and behavioral health professionals, it could be greater awareness of mental health challenges that influenced the survey results
Chiropractic Care Supports Mental Health, Too
Chiropractic care influences the neuromusculoskeletal system to optimize function and reduce joint pain that may accompany depression. A 2020 literature search concluded that chiropractic and spinal manipulation therapies may be regarded as care options for depression.
To learn more about the mental-physical health connection, download the F4CP eBook: Depression, Dopamine and Drug-Free Interventions: How Chiropractic Care is Supporting Mental Health.
This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress between June 14-16, 2022 among 2,039 U.S. adults ages 18+. The sampling precision of Harris online polls is measured by using a Bayesian credible interval. For this study, the sample data is accurate to within + 2.8 percentage points using a 95% confidence level. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables and subgroup sample sizes, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.