72 Percent of Americans Say They'll Hit Mental 'Breaking Point' if Stay-At-Home Orders Continue Into June: Survey

Nearly three-quarters of American adults said they will hit a mental "breaking point" by early June if coronavirus stay-at-home orders extend through the start of summer, a recent survey found.

A majority of respondents said they were concerned about traditional transportation and business activities when the country does lift coronavirus pandemic health protections, but 72 percent noted that another month of lockdown orders will make them hit an emotional "breaking point." Interviews with 1,895 U.S. adults between April 3-6 were led by Kelton Global, a consumer insights agency, which found 69 percent of Americans were "extremely worried" about flying on airplanes once the stay-in-place orders are lifted and 62 percent were worried about going to restaurants.

Fully, 100 percent of the respondents said they would have some type of mental or emotional breakdown if stay-at-home orders last longer than six months. But significant majorities of U.S. adults expressed deep anxieties about how the country will operate when everyday life returns to a "new normal." Sixty-nine percent of respondents said they were going to permanently change at least one everyday behavior of theirs in response to the pandemic.

Twenty-one percent of respondents said their concerns about dining out at restaurants, even after COVID-19 has passed, may continue far into the distant future.

More than three-quarters of U.S. adults (76 percent) said they were "extremely worried" about ever again going on a cruise ship. Forty-three percent of those people said they believe their fear of going on a cruise will likely last forever. And 75 percent of Americans said they don't believe air travel will ever return to its pre-pandemic procedures.

States across the country are re-opening at their own pace, and likewise, Americans are handling the coronavirus pandemic changes in very different ways. Twenty percent of women surveyed said they'd already reached their breaking points in the first week of April, with 12 percent of men saying the same. Seventy-six percent of women said they would hit a mental wall if stay-at-home orders extend into early June.

Previous Pew Research Center surveys have found that a significant majority of Americans support the coronavirus stay-in-place orders and largely oppose social gatherings of any kind. But social distancing measures have also contributed to one of the country's largest-ever spikes in unemployment.

coronavirus lockdown mental breakdown june
Nearly three-quarters of American adults said they will hit a mental "breaking point" by early June if their state extends coronavirus stay-at-home orders through the start of summer, a recent survey finds. JOSEP LAGO / Contributor/Getty Images

Kelton Global's 20-minute online surveys with 1,895 U.S. adults were conducted between April 3 and April 6, only a few weeks after federal and state social distancing guidelines were issued. But even at that time, more than one-third of young adults between 18-24 said they were at a mental breaking point. The percentage of people saying they were at their wits' end more than doubled among Americans "experiencing financial difficulties" versus the "financially comfortable."

"Our findings highlight the increasingly serious implications of stay-at-home orders, and puts some urgency on the actions of politicians and organizations who try to manage the COVID-19 fallout," wrote Kelton Global's Chief Insights Officer, Dr. Martin Eichholz, in a statement released earlier this week.

Almost 60 percent of younger Generation Z Americans said they expect to reach their breaking points about four weeks into lockdown. But 80 percent said the can handle another two months of stay-in-place orders should that be necessary. Some state governments, including New York, have already announced they plan to extend such orders beyond May 15 - nearly two months after restrictions were first announced.