Public Opinion and Mental Health in Virginia

Author: Walker Phillips
Major: Political Science, Literary Studies
Approved: Fall 2019
Status: Completed

According to a recent report from the CDC entitled, “Mental Health, Substance Use, and Suicidal Ideation during the COVID-19 Pandemic—United States, June 23-30, 2020A,” more Americans than before grapple with substance abuse, anxiety, depression, alongside Americans who already struggle with mental health problems and disorders. The coronavirus pandemic has harmed us both physically, and mentally. In my project, I answer the question: What are the public’s perceptions of mental health? And, are these perceptions related to mental health policies or insurance coverage? Even before the coronavirus pandemic, disparities in mental health insurance coverage for poorer and minority Americans have caused mental health issues for both groups to be harder to address, with some not even seeking help because they lack insurance coverage. However, now in the thralls of the pandemic, my research takes on new importance. In order to answer these questions, I use my own data collected through the Institute for Policy and Opinion Research (IPOR) at Roanoke College. In this survey, questions were asked in order to discern Virginians’ thoughts on mental health insurance and mental health stigma. In the data analysis, I focus mental health stigma, mental health insurance, and state mental health policy in Virginia. From the data analysis, it was found that race and ideology play a determining role in thoughts on government intervention in relation to public mental health insurance; however, other questions remain surrounding some of the other questions in this project and the role age, party, education, and income play in shaping public opinion surrounding public mental health insurance.

Phillips Distinction Project Final