BY: Neighbors’ Consejo|
Every day we see ourselves immersed as citizens in politics. Which political party are we aligned with? What do we think about a senator’s decision? Whom will we vote for mayor or president? What do we think about a new law? Do we know that this democratic exercise also affects our mental health?
In the study “Politics is making us sick: The negative impact of political engagement on public health during the Trump administration” conducted in 2019 by Kevin B. Smith, Ph.D, of the Department of Political Science, University of Nebraska, almost 40% of Americans said “politics was a source of significant anxiety, insomnia and even suicidal thoughts.” The negative impact was more prominent in those who were young, politically engaged or opposed to the government. In addition, it concludes, “Politics is a pervasive and largely unavoidable source of chronic stress that exacted significant health cost for large numbers of American adults between 2017 and 2020  .”
Most of the political impact on mental health is because of polarization, reinforced in social networks. This generates in the citizens feelings of aversion for others, because he or she think differently, and then they can feel angry, stressed, depressed, even reaching feelings of hate  .
Another study done in 2018  to therapists from all US states who completed a structured survey to examine their perspectives on political self-disclosure, perceived shared values with patients, and the therapeutic alliance, showed that of 604 patients between Democrats and Republicans, two-third of them reported talking about politics with their therapist. The same study show us that 87% of therapists revealed that when they discover that their patients had the same political thinking, they shared their affinities within therapy.
Kevin Smith, PhD, principal investigator of the aforementioned study  mentions, “Politics is a chronic stressor, not something whose impact spikes during and shortly after campaigns”. Punctually: The 2020 findings show that about 40% of American adults feel significant stress due to politics. In addition, between 50 and 85 million Americans believe politics are to blame for increased fatigue, anger, compulsive behavior and loss of temper. Because of politics, about a quarter of the individuals surveyed have considered moving, and about 5% have suicidal ideations  .
According to Constellation Behavioral Health  , what produces these types of feeling is due to six main factors: The cumulative effects, result of the amount of information that we received in a day about politics, mainly through social networks; fear, because of the decisions made by politicians and the global situation, especially after Covid-19; uncertainty of the results expected from those who make the decisions; stress as a result of arguing with a person who thinks differently, the decisions that are made by politicians, the climate of tension that exist in politics, not being able to give an opinion on everything that is heard, seen and read, mainly on social networks, etc., and discord, as a result of polarization.
Remember that politics exist so that we can have a better environment as a society, where we can expose our way of thinking in order to live with others as a group, even if they think differently. The decision to take care of your mental health in this situation is in your hands, not in a senator’s, much less in Congress. Remember, Neighbors’ Consejo votes for you, so, if you feel that politics are affecting you emotionally, contact us, we are here to help.