By Cameron Glenn

DAVIS (CBS13) – The COVID-19 pandemic has severely affected people’s daily emotional lives and mental health and it’s gotten progressively worse, UC Davis research indicates.

The study’s authors sought to look at the role of perceived stress, assess demographic variables, and add to what we know about people’s resilience when faced with disasters.

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What the researchers found was that, on average, just 28 days into the pandemic, two-thirds of survey respondents reported moderate to high levels of stress. Seventy-five percent of respondents were female well-educated, white, and employed at the time.

Researchers say they also found that those who have a lower education level and speak English as a second language were less resilient and less able to cope.

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“This is some of the first information we have on resilience in the face of COVID-19,” said Clare Cannon, assistant professor in the Department of Human Ecology at UC Davis and co-author on the study. “Our hypothesis, for our continuing research, is that it’s getting worse. The longer this goes on, the less resilient we are going to be.”

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Surveys began in April — just a few weeks after lockdowns started in the United States.

Cannon, along with researchers at Tulane University, surveyed 374 people online, using social media, websites, and other outlets, mostly in the United States, over a 10-week period beginning in April.

Those surveyed were asked about previous disaster experience, their resilience, their perceived stress, their current situation as it relates to COVID-19, and personal and household demographics.

The authors said the research points to the need for solutions for a population facing so much uncertainty.

“The more that people perceive stress the less resilient they are,” Cannon said.

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The article was published this month in the journal Sustainability.