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The role of informative media in our mental health
In a globalized world like today, we read, we see and/or listen to news to keep us informed. However, given the great variety of existing media, to highlight one on each other they generally fall into sensationalism, which can severely damage our mental health. But what is mental health?
According to WHO (2018), mental health is a state of well -being in which the person performs their abilities and is able to deal with the normal stress of life, to work in a productive way and to contribute to their community. In this positive sense, mental health is the foundation of individual well -being and the effective functioning of the community.
Mental health is mainly affected by our emotions, whether negative or positive. In fact, disorders such as anxiety and depression originate in behaviors that are largely determined by our mood, which in turn is originated in our emotions.
Let’s define anxiety. Anxiety is a feeling of concern, nervousness or fear of an event or situation. It is a normal reaction to stress. It helps you to remain alert to a challenging situation at work, to study more for an exam or concentrate on an important speech. Generally, it helps you face problems (OWH 2019).
However, the problem occurs when anxiety is excessive, that is, when it interferes with everyday life and generates fear invented situations that do not even represent a real risk for existence and that may not even happen. Here are panic attacks, phobias, among others.
In the case of depression, this is an emotional disorder that is basically characterized by alterations of humor, sadness, decreased self – esteem, inhibition, fatigue, insomnia, negative thoughts and which results in the decrease in vital activity, that is,, prevents you from developing normally the activities of daily life.
Something common for these two disorders is anger. This is an emotion that occurs when one feels attacked or perceives something or situation that can deprive him of obtaining what he wants. Its function is to help survival, however, when it is caused by any of these disorders it is irrational and can cause physical and emotional discomfort, in addition to affecting the people around it.
The emotions described in the previous paragraphs can be caused by the media, especially those responsible for transmitting news. However, not all news produce this, some are transmitted neutrally and faithful to the facts and others are loaded with some generally negative emotion. In the case of the latter they are called sensational news.
The tendency to present the facts and news is called sensationalism so that they generate a certain emotion, sensation or impression on the receiver. Lately this trend has given much given the plurality of informative means that exist and the desire to highlight from one medium over another. In addition to the immediacy of information.
The most present element in this news is alarmism, which is "the tendency to spread rumors about imaginary hazards or exaggerate the real ones" (Royal Spanish Academy), as well as the presence of graphic and shocking images, such as assaults, hospitals of hospitals, etc. And especially in recent years the presence of video or audio clips, sent by common people and unilrogant currents.
All of the above generates negative emotions in people by changing their moods making them constantly thinking about the issue of the news. But it is not only that, also affects the way they see their reality, focusing only on the negative and catastrophicizing their problems, which is when they enlarged them making them see worse than they are actually.
In fact, a study in 1998 at the University of Sussex and published in the British Journal of Psychology confirms the above. In this research, 30 people met, which were exposed to 3 types of news, positive, neutral and negative. Before seeing the news, they were asked to write about 3 concerns they had and describe 1-100 how anxious and sad they felt.
After watching the video they asked the same question again, where those of the positive and neutral news group did not have a significant change, while those of the news group with a negative approach effectively felt more anxious and sad than before. Each group also asked questions about their concerns described at the beginning of the experiment where it was evidenced that the people of the last group were the ones who most catastrophized their problems.
With everything seen above we can affirm that what the media in charge of transmitting the news today is doing today is doing today. Generating negative emotions in people, causing them to have a distorted image of their reality, which enlarge their problems and finally be more likely to fall into anxiety and depression.
This is why we must be aware of our mind and our body. If we are reading, listening or watching news, we have to realize the sensations and emotions we are feeling, and if it is something negative just change activity. Moreover, as a personal advice I would try to see as many news as possible.