Americans are increasingly being stressed out by finances, health issues, and employment issues, according to a new survey released today by Mental Health America. Nearly half of Americans surveyed feel stressed out by finances, while a third of people surveyed were stressed out by a health issue or employment concerns.

Finances, Health and Employment Cited as Stressors for Most AmericansWhen faced with stressful situations in their lives, most reported that they watched television, listened to music or read to help relieve stress. Family and friends serve as a social support for 71 percent of those polled. Prayer or meditation was cited as a coping mechanism for 62 percent and exercise sustained 55 percent of respondents.

Women were significantly more likely than men to eat as a coping mechanism for stress (42% versus 31%).

“The majority of Americans struggles to find balance in the face of a multitude of challenges in our busy society,” said David L. Shern, Ph.D., president and CEO of Mental Health America. “How they choose to cope—whether it is distracting activities, exercise, talking through their troubles or more harmful measures of smoking and doing drugs—affects their mental health. If inappropriately or inadequately addressed, chronic stress and other mental health problems jeopardize the health and well-being of Americans and of the nation as a whole.”

Parents feel the most stressed — nearly 40 percent of Americans reported feeling stressed from at least three sources: relationships with significant others or family, employment and finances.

Americans with a college degree are less stressed overall. A college education also makes a difference in whether finances are viewed as a stressor—more than half of respondents with less than a college degree note financial issues as stressors in their lives.

People living with a mental health issue reported they are more likely to talk to a family member, eat, drink, smoke or do drugs to relieve stress.

The survey of 3,040 American adults was conducted by phone and via the Internet from October 10 to November 1, 2006.

Mental Health America, formerly known as the National Mental Health Association, released the survey to coincide with the launch of a new vision and era of wellness for all.