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Impact of COVID-19 media coverage on mental health

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13 May 2021

The recent covid-19 outbreak has not only pushed the country's health infrastructure to the brink but also fuelled a mental health crisis barring any age , leading to anxiety,depression, suicidal instincts etc. Cases of depression and anxiety have increased triple fold in the country. Since its outburst in the nation , almost all the states are imposing curbs,curfews and lockdowns due to which people relied on the media to stay updated , to learn the latest news about the pandemic and to maintain connectivity.

But a lot of studies have revealed that more exposure to the pandemic news via the media is associated with greater depression and anxiety levels. Despite its importance in spreading urgent information in these difficult times numerous studies and research have suggested that pandemic news exposure may revoke mental health outcomes. One must not deny the positive outcomes of the media during these difficult times but along with that , it has also led to the rapid spread of misinformation, rumours which create a sense of panic and confusion in the public.Social media has now become an epicentre of rumour mongering arena. From Print to electronic media we will not only find covid-19 statistics but those terrifying pictures of burning pyres, people pleading for oxygen,overwhelmed hospitals, intubated patients and people crying and grieving for their loved ones . For media outlets relaying these kinds of pictures constantly are only their strategies or business models to attract more viewership but on the other hand these pictures create a sense of fear into the minds of viewers. Long-term exposure to sensitive pictures leads to deterioration of mental health and can have a major negative impact on the viewers. Taking in too much pandemic media results in constant worrying, feeling overwhelmed or having difficulty in sleeping. It can also be affected by consuming in an enormous amount of media coverage of the pandemic statistics, continuous relaying of covid-19 statistics including death and infections may unnecessarily increase perceptions of fear and uncertainty owing to the panic inducing and sensationalized communication strategies to attract viewers which contribute to the levels of depression , restlessness and anxiety.

In these hard times,it is very important to stay healthy not only physically but mentally too. To curb mental health issues one must not indulge in watching news channels and engaging in social media too much. We should try and interact with our immediate family members as much as possible. We can also try to give some time to our latent hobbies and can try some new ones too.

Stay safe , Stay healthy.

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Dhriti Jain

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