And this is taking a toll on all of us, including our children. The American Psychological Association released a statement this week warning that consuming violent and traumatic news can in and of itself negatively affect our mental health.
“Psychological science tells us that fear, anxiety and traumatic stress have long-term effects on health and well-being. These impacts are also being felt by people around the world who have families and friends in the region, as well as those concerned about the effects of war everywhere,” it says
So how do we stay informed and stay connected while protecting our mental health and that of our children? This is an issue that has come up over and over in the context of a long list of events such as school shootings, mass shootings, the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol, climate change, incidents of police brutality, the Covid-19 pandemic, the September 11 terrorist attacks and natural disasters such as hurricanes and wildfires.
CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta reached out to Dr. Gail Saltz for advice on how to navigate this fine line for an upcoming episode of his podcast, “Chasing Life.” Saltz is a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at the New York Presbyterian Hospital and Weill Cornell Medical College and the host of the podcast “How Can I Help?”
Saltz said that images, in particular, are problematic because they give the impression that the danger is close. “Visual images, moreso than something that you heard or something that you read, tend to stick in your mind rather like a movie. And they can become intrusive images that you can’t get out of your mind,” she explained.