Dutiful sons and daughters may need to see their parents, uncles and aunts, and grandparents, if nothing else to shut off their cable television news, turn off the talk radio, yank them off social media, and put down their newspapers and magazines. That’s because the American Psychological Association warns that an onslaught of media coverage, in a 2016 U.S. presidential campaign remarkable for its ugliness, is contributing to unhealthy stress for us all, especially older folks.
The association bases this claim on its annual survey, conducted by Harris Poll, of more than 3,500 adults older than 18 and living in the United States, with 52 percent of respondents saying the Hillary Clinton vs. Donald J. Trump race is a “very or somewhat significant source of stress.”
The dark campaign stresses Democrats and Republicans almost equally, and Americans’ discomfort is “exacerbated by arguments, stories, images and video on social media that can heighten concern and frustration, particularly with thousands of comments that can range from factual to hostile or even inflammatory,” the association reports.
Other experts have noted that the tawdry aspects of the presidential contest−especially Trump’s comments denigrating women and suggesting he feels free to grope them− have provoked deep, disturbing reactions in women who may have been belittled, bullied, and sexually assaulted. Veterans groups and their advocates have reacted sharply to the candidate’s flip discussions of post-traumatic stress disorder, especially as suffered by members of the military.
The psychologists’ group recommends that, rather than stressing out and potentially adding to health harms, Americans may wish to: restrict media consumption, reduce social media activity, and avoid unproductive, unhappy political discussions. They can channel their energies into useful activities, such as political volunteerism, and they need to keep in perspective that the democracy will continue after Nov. 8.
Further, they should vote.
There’s a lot, in health terms, at stake in the voting that’s just weeks away. Sadly, health care, which comprises almost 18 percent of the nation’s GDP, has gotten little attention. Those who wish to inform themselves about candidates and their policy positions on the accessibility, affordability, efficiency, and costs of health can check out these analyses by independent, nonpartisan groups, including by the Commonwealth Fund and the RAND Corp.; or by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
I’d also suggest that, across the country, voters might wish to learn about the range of ballot initiatives, including: 10 on legalizing marijuana (of special note for road safety), five with direct health care reform pertinence including drug pricing (California) and universal care (Colorado), and one in the Golden State that would require performers in adult movies to use condoms.