Mental Health & Wellbeing Matters: current affairs

Coffee image for Film Stories' regular mental health column
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In our latest chat about mental health and wellbeing, a few thoughts about the news cycle and protecting your headspace.

Hello and a very warm welcome to the part of our website where we just stop, take a breather, and chat about mental health for a bit. This is a weekly series of articles, where we chat about things that may be affecting you, or people around you. We know that not every article is going to be of use to everyone, but hopefully over the course of what we write, there’s something in the catalogue that’s of use.

This time, we’re skating back around something we’ve looked at before, and that’s basically the state of the world. It’s no revelation to suggest that the last decade of politics has been particularly divisive, and the quantity of news stories that put a smile on our face is easily dwarfed by the number that don’t. It’s something that doesn’t exactly help when it comes to day-to-day mental health.

I don’t want to go over some of the unpleasant headlines of the last week, but in truth, no matter when this article was run, there would have been another batch we could have talked about. The cycle is ongoing.

The problem with the way news media has gone of course is it’s now very clickbait driven, and sensation – or stories about Prince Harry – is what sells. Sure, it’s always been thus, but the money has been cut away from news reporting, and put into opinion, personalities, and writing parts of headlines in BLOCK CAPITALS for little obvious reason.

The companies behind such news organisations are finding as many ways as possible to get before our eyeballs too. Push notifications on website, recommended posts going to our phones: even if you wanted to avoid the news, there are umpteen obstacles that are trying to prevent you from doing so. Block buttons are useful.

Still, the cumulative effect of all of this is a feeling of powerless. How can a single person affect the injustices we’re presented with, and the feeling that the bullies always win?

Well, we can’t really.

And that’s the rub. There are organisations we can donate to and support in some cases, or protests we can join and such like. But living our lives by the angles placed on daily news stories is no healthy place. I used to make it part of my daily routine to check the headlines when I woke up. Now I don’t, and my day is a little better for it. I don’t avoid the news entirely, but I’m very careful with it. It feels like about all I can do.

No radical solutions here then, but an acknowledgement at least that sometimes, walking away from the tap of misery that’s pointed in our direction by such outlets isn’t a bad thing to do. As simple as that.

Thanks, as always, for reading. This column will return next week…

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