How the 2020 Elections Affect Our General Mental Health


With the United States elections coming to an end on November 3rd, we looked at the mental health of the population during this time of high tension. We needed to know how people felt before the election period in relation to how they felt during, and how they’ll most likely feel after. Does the election truly affect people’s mental health? And if it does, to what extent, and what can we do to preserve our sanity?


An Unprecedented Year

The 2020 elections occurred during an unpredictable, hectic, and generally frantic year in a very long time. The elections were mixed in with Covid-19 with its high infection rate and lockdowns, political unrest as people were divided to two sides, natural disasters, & social injustice for minorities or people with contrasting views than their government. The rate of anxiety and depression were found to have increased, especially this year that the systematic way that life has been known to function was turned upside down. When the elections came up too, more uncertainty towards the future was built, which has shown us that this raises negative symptoms such as the aforementioned anxiety & depression.


Another negative symptom, is the fact that people are less likely to participate in everyday activities than pre-election times. The amount of pent up anger at the injustices of society also came exploding during this year, with rightful protests in order to achieve social justice (BLM); people had enough of being treated as second-class citizens in their own country. The blend of all of these dilemmas, catalyzed by the people’s limit for injustice has all shown profound effects.

It has been reported (references below) that there are generally two sides to this when it comes to how people feel. These two sides of the same coin are either heightened worry, or apathy (not caring) towards it all- like nothing really has any meaning or it doesn’t matter anymore. To add on, if you’re personally affected by an issue, such as racism, abortion/planned parenthood, the economy, etc., it’s more likely to affect your mental health.


What can we do about it?

So are we going to feel this way forever? No. It’s generally shown that these are temporary effects that subside once the election comes to a close and people have had time to adapt to and accept the outcome of it all. Luckily for us, there are things we can do even during the elections to lessen the negative impact it induces on our mental health. Primarily of course, limiting screen time, as once you have the information you need, all of the rest is simply arguments from both sides and scare tactics designed by the media to get you to think a certain way; of course, in this era of overload and misinformation, being more secure and confident in your own beliefs can make you feel much less stressed.

One of the most underrated methods that can be used to protect your inner peace, is actually acceptance. You don’t have to agree on or share the same political views as family and friends; you can still find ways to connect to your loved ones even if you don’t agree on subjects, no one needs to convince anyone else to think exactly the same way that they do. Also, don’t let other people’s behaviors and thoughts destroy your inner peace, if you feel like your energy is being drained, simply remove yourself from the situation. Don’t forget to maintain your regular routines when it comes to self-care, because even if everything changes around you, your health comes before it all.


The Home Stretch

With the elections nearly drawing to a close, panic is high, but remember that you don’t have to be a part of that. Your mental health and wellbeing should come before it all, and if something threatens that, it’s usually not needed or can be avoided. With times being already as stressful as they are this year, the least that people owe themselves is not adding any more stress. Remember to take care of yourself before trying to take care of others, as you can’t pour from an empty glass.

References

American Psychological Association (2017) Stress in America: Coping with change, Stress in America™ Survey. Washington, D.C.

Gottbrath, Laurin-Whitney. “US Elections: How Do Depression, Anxiety Influence Voter Turnout?” US & Canada News | Al Jazeera, Al Jazeera, 9 Oct. 2020, www.aljazeera.com/economy/2020/10/9/us-elections-how-do-depression-anxiety-influence-voter-turnout.

Roche, Michael J., and Nicholas C. Jacobson. “Elections Have Consequences for Student Mental Health: An Accidental Daily Diary Study.” Psychological Reports, vol. 122, no. 2, Apr. 2019, pp. 451–464

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