COMMENTS: Government Shutdown Increasing Stress on Federal Workers, Contractors, Families, APA Says

COMMENTS: Government Shutdown Increasing Stress on Federal Workers, Contractors, Families, APA Says
Carolyn Kaster/AP

The American Psychological Association called for an immediate end to the partial government shutdown because of the deleterious effect it is having on the economic security and mental health of federal employees and contractors, as well as their families.

“The stress of uncertainty and missed paychecks is putting enormous pressure on the 800,000 furloughed federal workers, as well as government contractors and the many businesses that rely on federal workers,” said APA President Rosie Phillips Davis, PhD.

Rosie Phillips Davis

“As the shutdown continues, the people who are suffering the most are those who are least able to withstand its impact – those at the lower end of the socioeconomic spectrum. We welcome the administration’s announcement that programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children will provide full benefits through February but remain deeply concerned about interruptions in housing programs, such as rental subsidies.”

“Furthermore, American Indians and Alaska Natives will start to lose access to services such primary, mental health and behavioral health services provided by the Indian Health Services and other agencies, and domestic violence shelters are also facing possible shortfalls, as the Department of Justice has indicated uncertainty about the availability of funds after January 18.”

“APA’s annual Stress in America survey has shown that money is a common source of stress for many Americans. As the shutdown drags on, the uncertainty felt by federal employees may lead to stress and anxiety, which can increase the likelihood of unhealthy behaviors and even lead to negative health consequences.”

The shutdown is also affecting the many psychologists and other scientists who are employed by the federal government, as well as on scientific research and training generally, said Russell Shilling, PhD, APA’s chief scientific officer.

“Overall, the shutdown affects scientists across multiple domains by not allowing peer review, slowing development of new funding opportunities, and limiting educational and training experiences for early career psychologists and other scientists,” Shilling said.