Mental health has been in the news quite a bit lately. Dozens of U.S. states are currently suing Meta for contributing to the youth mental health crisis by inserting addictive features into their products, while the U.S. Surgeon General is touring the nation to bring awareness to the growing epidemic of loneliness and isolation. The country has endured periods of low national morale, such as in the 1970s when high inflation and the energy crisis worsened public sentiment following the Vietnam War. The current mood, however, feels different. Gallup recently reported that national mental health is at an all-time low, with few bright spots to lift spirits.
To better understand how Americans are feeling and their attitudes towards mental health in general, ThinkNow conducted a nationally representative quantitative survey of 1,500 respondents and found some interesting differences among ethnic, age and gender groups.
Download the report here.
For example, 52% agree that technology and social media have a negative impact on mental health, but when broken out by race, 61% of Whites felt technology had a negative effect, and only 48% of Hispanics thought it did.
While technology has helped us keep in touch with friends and family in faraway places, it appears to have degraded our ability to connect in person. Staying connected online is a double-edged sword since the same news feed that brings us pictures of the grandkids and fluffy kittens also feeds us news about the wars in Israel and Ukraine, the dysfunction in Washington, the latest mass shooting and the climate crisis.
Hispanics may have a built-in defense against the isolation technology breeds, owing to their large, multigenerational households, strong social support systems, and tendency to use social media to stay connected with relatives abroad.
When asked how individuals rate their mental health, men rate it higher than women by 11 percentage points, and Baby Boomers rank it highest at 83%, saying it’s good or excellent vs. 57% of Gen Z saying the same.
Gen Z spends the most amount of time on social media, so the notion that social media negatively affects mental health appears to be correlated. Unfortunately, Gen Z is also the generation that’s least comfortable discussing mental health concerns with healthcare professionals. Only 40% of them state they’re comfortable discussing their issues with a professional compared to 60% of Millennials and 65% of Boomers.
As seen in previous research conducted by ThinkNow, Asian Americans lag other groups when it comes to awareness of mental health issues. Twenty-four percent of Asian Americans believe that having a mental health issue is a sign of weakness compared to the 16% average for all groups. Asians are also considerably less likely to be aware of mental health services in their communities (42% vs. 55%) and most likely to seek out information on social media (51% vs. 35%).
Black Americans, however, are the most likely to engage in self-help (68% vs 58% on average) and more likely to be aware of resources. Black women, in particular, are good role models when it comes to mental health awareness. According to The Black Consumer Project, 63% of Black women believe that mental health is an essential part of overall health compared to 50% of non-Blacks.
Opinions on the role medication plays in the treatment of mental health vary considerably by age. When asked whether medication is the best treatment for mental health issues, the most significant difference we saw was the split between Millennials where 40% think medication is the best treatment, and Boomers, where only 13% believe medication is best.
We also saw differences by race with Asians being the least likely to think medication was best (20% vs. 30% for non-Hispanic Whites) and gender, with men being more likely than women to believe in medication (13% vs 8%). Thirty-two percent of men, however, think you can “snap out of” mental health problems vs. only 20% of women who agree. Men are more likely than women to believe that most mental health problems can be easily fixed (37% vs 22%), so their higher support for medicine may be masking other attitudes.
America faces diverse and interconnected mental health challenges influenced by technology, age, ethnicity and external factors. Understanding these differences can help when developing messaging and services that reach individuals most in need of assistance. While our society is starting to normalize talking about mental health, we still lack supportive environments and services are often difficult to access. Technology like social media can harm our mental health if not managed, but technological innovations like telemedicine and wellness apps can guide and support us in improving our outlook. A holistic and inclusive approach with open dialogue, support systems, and awareness is vital in navigating towards a healthier, more mentally resilient society.
The earth isn’t having a good 21st century. In terms of environmental health, the planet is deteriorating across all metrics, and most governments worldwide have failed to address this issue adequately. Politicians may be more willing to push for substantive policies on issues like climate change if they feel their constituents would support them, but they need the data. So, to commemorate Earth Day and Arbor Day, ThinkNow conducted a nationally representative quantitative consumer research study to identify sustainability policies that Americans support and to highlight their views on environmental concerns.
Download the study here.
Environmental concerns vary significantly by generation. For example, when asked about the importance of personally using renewable energy, 46% of Millennials said it was important, very important or extremely important (Top 3 Box response on a 10-point scale), whereas only 29% of Baby Boomers and 32% of Gen Z agreed. Millennial Americans were more likely to support and engage in every sustainability measure we asked about.
Millennials were also more likely to say they personally engaged in sustainability practices more than the general population and that those practices positively impacted the world.
However, sustainability can be expensive. Some policies increase the cost of goods and services, which is often cited as a reason politicians choose not to pursue them. But Millennials are willing to shoulder the expense more so than any other generation, with Gen Z a close second.
Some attitudes and behaviors surrounding sustainability appear to be influenced by ethnicity. Eighty-eight percent of Asian Americans, for example, say they take shorter showers to conserve water, whereas only 77% of non-Hispanic Whites say they do that. Non-Hispanic Whites were most likely to say they buy used/thrift items at 76%, while only 61% of Asian Americans were thrift shoppers.
Among the different ethnic groups, African Americans displayed the lowest level of concern regarding the planet's future, with only 68% expressing worry. On the other hand, Hispanics had the highest level of anxiety, with 76% expressing concern. This discrepancy could explain why Hispanics are also the group most willing to shoulder the financial costs associated with sustainable practices.
Income level is key in predicting an individual's likelihood to support or engage in sustainability practices. Opting to go green can get expensive, which explains why only 34% of individuals earning less than $40K per year believe that personally using renewable energy is important, in contrast to 50% of high earners who do. Additionally, certain practices, such as growing one's own food, are more feasible for individuals living in single-family homes than those residing in multi-unit buildings.
The infrastructure bill passed in 2021 aims to increase the number of electric vehicles (EVs) on the road. However, 52% of our representative sample said they would not buy an EV in the future. This presents a problem if the U.S. hopes to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels. At 64%, the main reason survey respondents gave for not planning to purchase an electric vehicle was cost. EVs are more expensive than their gas-powered counterparts. Range, on the other hand, was a barrier a few years ago, but only 15% of respondents cited that as a reason today. A lack of charging accessibility was the second most likely reason respondents would avoid EVs, with 34% stating they had nowhere to charge at work or home and an equal 34% stating there aren't enough charging stations.
Sustainability and environmental concerns are becoming increasingly important to Americans, particularly younger generations. Millennials and Gen Z are more likely to support and engage in these practices, even if they come at a cost. The passage of the infrastructure bill in 2021 represents progress in decreasing our reliance on fossil fuels. However, the cost of purchasing an electric vehicle remains a significant obstacle for many Americans. To effectively address environmental degradation, policymakers must consider their constituents' attitudes, behaviors, motivators, and barriers when formulating policies to tackle this crucial issue. Further action is necessary to ensure that sustainable solutions are accessible and feasible for all.
The 2022 World Cup is scheduled to run from November 20th till December 18th. The tournament was moved from its usual June/July slot because of the intense summer heat in host-country Qatar. The temperature, however, is not the only heat surrounding the tournament. Human rights abuses by the firms building the stadiums and infrastructure to host the event have gotten as much, if not more, coverage than the qualifying matches that lead up to the tournament. Qatar's laws against homosexuality are also creating tension at a time when World Soccer is trying to become more inclusive.
These controversies, however, do not appear to have diminished fans' interest in the quadrennial event, especially here in the U.S., with athletes returning to the tournament after failing to qualify in 2018. This, along with an overall increase in interest in soccer in the U.S., will likely result in strong viewership. To gauge interest in the tournament and measure how the controversies might affect viewers' opinions of sponsors, we conducted a nationally representative survey of 1,550 respondents. We found that 44% of U.S. adults are either somewhat or very likely to view at least some matches. This is an improvement over the last time the U.S. qualified for the tournament, when 37% of respondents in our 2014 survey said they would be watching.
Download the report here.
As usual, Hispanics are the most likely to say they will tune in. Mexico's national team, Argentina, Ecuador, Uruguay, Costa Rica, and (technically not Hispanic) Brazil, will be playing in the tournament. Those teams, along with Team USA, are expected to draw Hispanic viewers who would like to see the FIFA World Cup Trophy return to the Americas.
Forty percent of Millennials are soccer fans. They are twice as likely to be a soccer fan than Gen X and 25% more likely than Gen Z. Major league soccer matches in Atlanta, Seattle and Cincinnati regularly draw larger crowds than baseball games. Millennials are also the age group most likely to watch the World Cup.
When asked how they plan to watch, streaming edges out broadcast television by 52% to 48%. This holds true across racial groups, except for Hispanics who are slightly more likely to view on T.V. (56% vs 54%).
The only group to report a higher likelihood to watch games on regular T.V. over streaming are Baby Boomers at 69% vs. 34%. The rise in streaming's popularity is evident across all types of content. Sports, however, has been a holdout in that the major networks are generally viewed as the best place to view live events. However, the fact that the World Cup audience skews younger is bolstering streaming over broadcast. Fox Sports and Telemundo and their respective streams have the U.S. broadcast rights for the U.S. Likely viewers, however, are not yet aware of that since 52% of respondents said they would watch on ESPN vs. 35% on FOX and 21% on Telemundo.
Awarding the World Cup to Qatar has been controversial. Accusations of bribery being the reason the tournament was awarded and the fact that the country could not host the tournament in the summer because of excessive heat are concerning but their poor human rights record has garnered the most attention. Building the soccer stadiums in a country with summer highs of 108/109 °F and weak worker protections has caused the death of 6,500 foreign workers. Additionally, homosexuality is illegal in Qatar and punishable by up to three years in prison and death under sharia law for Muslims. This has led some brands who normally sponsor the tournament to pull out of this year's event. Others have issued statements condemning the human rights abuses but have stopped short of pulling their sponsorship.
Fans, however, generally support brands that sponsor the World Cup. Fifty percent say that sponsorship positively impacts their impression of the brand while only 7% say sponsorship would negatively impact their opinion. Negative opinion towards sponsorship is in the single digits across all demos except for Gen Z. 22% of Gen Z say that sponsoring the World Cup this year would diminish their perception of a brand.
While controversy surrounds the 2022 Qatar World Cup, viewership in the U.S. is likely to remain strong and the potential for backlash against sponsoring brands will remain low. The fact that it will be played in the fourth quarter makes it difficult for brands to stay away since it's when most Holiday ad spending takes place. However, brands that choose to sponsor World Cup events this year should also demonstrate their support of the LGBTQ+ community and workers' rights to make it clear where they stand.
In a time when U.S. viewership of international sporting events like the Olympics is declining, more attention will be placed on the expanding World Cup audience. Americans will be tuning in, or more precisely, logging on. Brands that care about staying relevant need to be there with them.
Download the report here.
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It’s Pride Month! Every year, in June, LGBTQIA+ communities worldwide celebrate the freedom to be authentically and unapologetically who they are. City streets erupt in festive expressions of Pride as enthusiastic, and often costumed patrons attend parades, concerts, and festivals decorated with brightly colored rainbow flags, streamers, and confetti. But the celebration doesn’t just bring people together for a good party. Instead, it shines a light on an underrepresented community, like other minority groups, who have struggled to be seen, heard, and included for generations. (more…)
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2020 has been one of the most polarizing years in recent history. A global pandemic decimated the economy. The murders of Ahmaud Aubrey, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd sparked a worldwide outcry for social justice. And the presidential election and ensuing calls for recounts and litigation gripped the nation while the world watched.
All of these events culminated in a complex display of cultural dynamics that influence contemporary consumer attitudes and behavior.