Americans are more anxious than ever over paying their bills

Americans are stressed out.

People are plagued by financial anxiety, according to the results of an annual poll of 1,004 adults conducted by the American Psychiatric Association released Monday.

This year’s national anxiety score — derived by mean scores on a scale of zero to 100 — is 51, a five-point jump since 2017. Two-thirds of respondents said they were extremely or somewhat anxious about paying their bills or expenses. Last year, 56 percent of people reported financial worries.

But some people are more worried about finances as others. Women are more anxious than men and also had a greater increase in anxiety than men this year compared to last year. More than half (57 percent) of women 18 to 49 years of age reported being more anxious this year, compared to 38 percent of men in that age group.

Nearly four in five Hispanic adults reported concerns about paying the bills, as did three-quarters of women and young adults (aged 18 to 34).

Only 19 percent of people reported being less anxious than they were a year ago, whereas 39 percent were more worried. “That increased stress and anxiety can significantly impact many aspects of people’s lives, including their mental health and it can affect families,” APA president Anita Everett said in the report. Only anxieties about health and safety outranked financial anxiety.

A range of factors are contributing to Americans’ financial stress. Wages have been stagnant for many workers. Consumer debt hit a record high last fall and some argue that high housing costs are a growing problem for many households. Americans currently shoulder more than $1.4 trillion in student debt.

There are a number of steps that experts recommend consumers take to assuage their financial worries, beyond just paying off their outstanding debt, such as re-evaluating the household budget and opening a higher interest savings account.

The vast majority of respondents believe a person’s mental health impacts their physical health (86 percent, up from 80 percent in 2017). Three-quarters of American say untreated mental illness has a significant impact on the US economy.

But half of US adults in the survey said there is less stigma against people with mental illness than 10 years ago.

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