It's time to address the conflict between staying informed and mental health

Juggling our responsibility to stay informed about the world's current climate and prioritising our mental wellbeing is no easy task, but it is possible.

Imogen Smillie
15th March 2022
Image credit: @geralt, Pixabay
In the world that we currently live in, is there a way to stay informed by current events without it damaging our mental wellbeing?

Every now and then, it crosses my mind just how much the world has changed in my 19 years of living. I try not to dwell on it too much, as in the end, it’s not going to be healthy for my mental wellbeing. Unfortunately, I’m an overthinker – and that’s an understatement! I can be easily scared by news stories, even those that don’t directly affect me. But as a now fully fledged adult, it’s my responsibility to be informed about local and global news.

For me, it all began back when COVID-19 was first mentioned. It’s March 2020 and Boris Johnson announces a national lockdown - well then. So it’s stuck in the house, clap for carers, lack of toilet roll and the news on… constantly! Hearing about the thousands of deaths occurring every day is bound to have a negative effect on a person. From the COVID-19 pandemic to the awful events currently occurring in Ukraine, the ‘unprecedented times’ (sorry, it was bound to be said) we are all living through need to be accurately reported on, so fearmongering stories don’t overwhelm us.

For me, it’s all about balance. I believe it’s important that we are aware of current situations - Ukraine is under attack and the more we know, the more we may be able to help. But with any news coverage on war, or just any disaster happening in the world, there are those reports that will exaggerate, and therefore frighten reader/watchers/listeners even more than necessary. For instance, if your main source of news is Twitter or TikTok, let’s be honest and say that they are often littered with comments of scare stories and clickbait. This doesn't erase the informative potential of these platforms, you just have to keep a critical eye and select sources you can trust. Additionally, certain online news platforms and independent sources are notorious for gossip columns, so cannot always be trusted to give the basic information needed to objectively understand the world’s current climate.

Though, as with any news platform, others have qualms about their reporting, I have personally found it helpful to stick to the BBC for my main source of news. I have the BBC News and Sport app on my phone and check it once a day as I wake up, to make sure I have all the updates of breaking news stories. Notifications have been turned off, however, as even those were beginning to scare me throughout the pandemic and now with the updates from Ukraine. When checking social media, as hard as it can be, its important to filter out the scare stories if you don't wish to use social media for news and would rather save it for keeping in contact with friends etc (my social media use personally consists of scouting out theories on the latest film or TV series!) Most platforms have a function where you can mute content including certain words from your feed. On the other hand, some people view social media as their most reliable news source, so this might not be for everyone. We all have different preferences, and that's okay!

And remember, if you ever question anything you see, talk to people – we’re all going through the same struggle trying to dig out the ‘fake news’ (sorry again for the cringe jargon!) from the raw details. Everyone is entitled to worry about the world in which we live, so the more we talk, hopefully things can begin to feel a little less scary.

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