Protect Mental Health Against Traumatic Events and News

Mental health is an essential aspect of an individual’s overall well-being. News of traumatic events can range from natural disasters, severe accidents, physical or sexual assaults and tragedies happened in the society. Extensive reporting of such news in the mass media is common. However, exposing oneself to such negative information repeatedly may lead to the following significant negative impacts:

  • Negative thinking patterns, such as a belief that the world is dangerous, life is unpredictable and helpless or people are all malicious and not trustworthy.
  • Adverse changes in mood and emotions, such as intense fear and anxiety, mood swings, irritability, anger, sadness and loss of interest in activities once enjoyed.
  • Disturbed memory and concentration, such as gloomy and negative thoughts of the tragedy and difficulty in focusing on tasks or activities.
  • Physical symptoms, including headaches, poor appetite and difficulty sleeping. These symptoms can also interact with and exacerbate the emotional and psychological impacts of the traumatic event.

We can take steps to cope with stress reactions and protect ourselves. Some tips are as follows:

  • Acknowledge and accept your thoughts and feelings. It is natural to have negative thoughts and feelings associated with some very scary, violent, and sad events. These are normal, and excessive repression or denial of these thoughts and feelings can interfere with the recovery process. However, if the relevant thoughts and feelings persist for a long time, it may turn into a more serious mental health condition, and you should seek professional help as soon as possible.
  • Limit the exposure to negative news. As we may be influenced by such news, we should try to stop those media reports from further affecting us. You may wish to limit how much you read, how long you listen to or watch the news and avoid forward related news repeatedly. For example, it may be helpful to read or listen to the news only at specific time or two times a day, or skip the content once spotted relevant headlines.
  • Maintain healthy habits. It is advisable to continue with our healthy habits, balanced eating, get enough sleep and spend time on relaxing activities that bring us pleasure, joy and fun. These can unwind our emotionally strained mind and body to balance the impacts brought about by the trauma.
  • Talk to people you trust and seek support. Sharing your thoughts and feelings with buddies are a good way to cope with stress and enrich interpersonal relationship. For adolescents, you may let close friends, parents or teachers know how you are affected. If you feel good about it, you may also remind your buddies to take steps to safeguard themselves against the impacts of the tragedy.

In conclusion, traumatic events and the related news can significantly impact our minds, emotions and thoughts, which cause a range of mental health issues. For the protection and benefits of our mental well-being, it is crucial for us to recognise the possible negative effects of such events and news on ourselves, take appropriate countermeasures and seek support when needed. 

For more information about How to Take Care of Yourself and the Others under Stress Reaction / Response, please refer to the following article for details.

如何在壓力反應下照顧自己和別人 (Chinese version only)
如何在壓力反應下照顧自己和別人 (Chinese version only)