Survey Reveals 1 in 5 Lie About Mental Health to Their Doctor


If you lie to your doctor about your mental well-being, you’re not alone. According to a newly released survey from AdventHealth, 21% of adults said they dodge the truth when it comes to discussing anxiety, depression or suicidal thoughts with their physician.

And even more — 23% — have been untruthful about smoking, drinking alcohol or recreational drug use.

The nationally representative survey queried 500 adults age 25 and older in AdventHealth’s service area, including Central Florida, Kansas City and a handful of communities in Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Texas and Wisconsin.

Overall, 59% said they were “comfortable” discussing such topics with their primary-care doctor. The percentage was higher among women than men (63% vs. 53%) and included 75% of people over age 50.

The survey also found that 47% of adults either agreed or “strongly agreed” that they don’t know whom to trust on COVID-19 information, down from 54% during a similarly conducted survey last June, and that 20% don’t believe that the virus poses a “serious threat anymore.”

Some 14% even said it was “pointless” to work on improving their health “with so much going on in the world,” although the figure had dropped from 19% last June.

In brighter news, 29% of respondents said their physical health had improved in the past few months, and 25% said their mental health had improved over the same period — both slightly higher than last June. About a third of respondents said they had started exercising to improve their mental health during the pandemic, 23% said they’ve started meditating or practicing “mindfulness,” 8% had started in-person counseling and 7% had joined a support group.

“The pandemic has opened up opportunities to discuss mental health,” said Michael Westerveld, a neuropsychologist at AdventHealth. “Efforts to deal with increased stress has led to people seeking more and varied ways to cope.”

AdventHealth for Children recently announced a $6 million grant from Dr. Phillips Charities that will launch a new comprehensive pediatric and young adult mental health program based at the hospital.

Across the country, researchers have reported a marked increase in mental health concerns during the pandemic, including a dramatic rise in drug overdoses.

A U.S. Census Bureau survey in late September found that more than 32% of adults reported symptoms of an anxiety or depressive disorder in the previous week. The number was highest for people 18 to 29 years old — over 49% — but generally dropped with advancing age. For people 70 to 79 years old, for instance, just over 15% reported symptoms of anxiety or depression.