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With the support of EA Spain, I’m conducting a survey to better understand EA mental health and the best ways to promote it. I encourage you to take it and distribute it to your local EA group!

Goals of this Survey

  • To assess the prevalence and severity of mental health conditions in the EA community
  • To determine members’ current access to mental health resources
  • To gauge interest in various potential EA-sponsored mental health resources
  • To analyze mental health’s effects on productivity in the EA community
  • To see how needs may vary geographically

Reasons to Conduct an EA Mental Health Study

Mental health conditions are common and widespread

A meta-analysis of mental health studies across 63 countries found:

  • On average, 1 in 5 adults had experienced a common mental disorder within the past 12 months and almost 1 in 3 within their lifetime
  • About 1 in 10 adults meet the criteria for a mood disorder at some point in their lives
  • About 13% of adults meet the criteria for an anxiety disorder at some point in their lives

Community support can increase well-being

Mental illness creates immense suffering, but community support can alleviate its harms. Structural support has been shown to buffer the harmful effects of mental illness. The goal of this survey is to reveal the unique needs of the EA community in order to best support member well-being.

The prevalence of mental illness is often concealed

Stigma against mental illness often prevents people from seeking help. As a result, the severity of mental health issues within a group is not always apparent. Formal research and customized interventions are therefore needed to determine the prevalence of mental health conditions and proactively provide support.

Mental health and productivity

As described in Elizabeth’s Mental Health Shallow Review, mental illness can negatively impact productivity. For instance, on average, people with depression experience 5.6 hours of health-related productivity loss per week, which is significantly higher than the expected 1.5 per week in those without depression. Depression also causes people with the condition to miss about nine days of work each year. (Alonso et al., 2011; Stewart et al., 2003). For those with mental health conditions, mental illness is a cognitive load that can increase the risk of burnout and cause immense stress.

To be as effective as possible, we first have to care for ourselves and each other.

If you haven’t already, please take the mental health survey! It takes about 15 minutes to complete. I will publish an analysis of the results in the EA forum within the next two months. If you have any questions, please contact Danica Wilbanks at danica.j.wilbanks@gmail.com.

Sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 12:53 PM

Hi Danica, this looks really interesting! A lot of your goals look very tricky to measure, though. How are you hoping to measure the prevalence or geographic spread of EA mental health problems if the survey is taken by volunteers, rather than by randomly chosen community members?

Yes, the validity of geographic spread is limited by the fact that respondents are volunteers. Even so, I believe it will be informative to see if and how access to resources varies in the subset of people the survey reaches. If there are significant differences based on country, for example, that could inform resource distribution in a potential intervention. Of course, it would be important to follow up to confirm that the differences present in the results are representative of the larger population.

Good point, I think you could reframe it to still work: If the goal is to treat mental health issues in EA, the subset of people you could actually reach with treatment is probably fairly similar to the subset that would answer this poll: people that use the Forum.

It probably can't deliver accurate numbers on prevalence, but it can profile the people it's targeting on their demographics and desires.

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