Stockton poll: Mental health issues have increased during pandemic

According to a poll from Stockton University released Friday, 58% of those surveyed reported that they or someone close to them has experienced mental health issues during the pandemic, while 39% said they have not and 2% were unsure.

Of those saying they had experienced problems, 68% said that mental health had gotten worse during the 2-year-old pandemic. Only 7% said the problems had improved, and 20% said they had not changed.

The William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at Stockton University surveyed 640 adults between April 4-13.

“The public is confirming what experts have been saying about the pandemic, that mental health has taken a beating as we try to manage the coronavirus,” John Froonjian, director of the Hughes Center, said. “The pandemic has increased stress levels on multiple fronts: economic, social, employment, health care, schooling, loss of loved ones. It all takes a toll.”

Smoking in casinos

The question of whether New Jersey’s indoor smoking ban should be extended to Atlantic City casinos was also addressed in the poll. Sixty-two percent supported prohibiting smoking on casino floors, while 31% opposed the proposal and 6% were unsure.

However, fewer South Jersey residents (59%) supported the casino smoking ban than in northern New Jersey, where 66% supported it, Hughes Center research associate Alyssa Maurice said.

Opioid and drug addiction

One aspect of mental health problems involves drug addiction. Nearly four in 10 (39%) of poll respondents said they or someone they know personally has been affected by the opioid crisis. More than one in three (35%) characterized drug addiction as a big problem in their community, and 40% said it is a minor problem where they live.

“In a state of 9 million people, that’s a lot of suffering,” Froonjian said.

Nearly 60% said they have not been affected by the opioid crisis, and 17% did not believe it was a problem at all in their community.

Comparing regions, South Jersey showed the highest rate of respondents impacted by the crisis (46%) and the highest rate of respondents who said addiction is a big problem where they live (43%). This rate was 30% and 34% for Central and North Jersey, respectively.

State residents were split on whether the state provides adequate and affordable treatment in mental health and addiction services. On mental health treatment, 36% agreed strongly or somewhat that treatment options in New Jersey are adequate and affordable, but 40% disagreed. One in four (24%) were not sure how to rate treatment services.

Regarding addiction treatment services, 36% agreed the state’s options are adequate and affordable, while 33% disagreed and 31% were not sure.