Help! How do I stop distressing news from affecting my mental health?


Dear Friend,

I follow the news very closely and have been reading a lot about one particular homicide case in Hong Kong. I felt very distressed and depressed after reading the many gruesome details of the crime. I don’t know what to do. Is this normal? What should I do?

Signed, Distressed



Dear Distressed,

We feel you. It is not unusual to feel upset reading the news, especially if it contains graphic details or discusses a violent crime.

It feels like there’s been a lot of bad stuff in the news lately, from natural disasters, homicide, physical or sexual assault, to mass shootings. Of course, the media will report on these topics because they want the public to be informed about what’s happening in the world. But repeated exposure to negative news can have a serious impact on your mental health, such as:

  • Creating negative thinking patterns, including a belief that the world is dangerous, life is unpredictable and helpless, and everyone is malicious and untrustworthy

  • Adverse changes in mood and emotion, such as intense fear and anxiety, mood swings, irritability, anger, sadness, and a loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed

  • Intrusive thoughts and trouble with concentration

  • Physical symptoms such as headaches, poor appetite, and difficulty sleeping

Here are a few steps you can take to cope with the stress and protect yourself:

  • Acknowledge and accept your feelings. It is normal for people to feel bad after hearing scary and violent news, so remind yourself that you are bound to be stressed or sad. Repressing or denying your emotions makes it harder to recover

  • Limit how much you read, listen to or watch the news. For example, you could check the news only at a specific time, two times a day, or skip content once you’ve read the headline, if you determine it might be difficult for you to read

  • Stick to your daily routine: make sure you’re eating well, getting enough sleep and spending time on activities you enjoy. Living your life as normal can make you feel more secure and less anxious

  • Talk to people you trust, such as your parents or teacher, and seek support. If your friends are up to talking about it, you can discuss your thoughts and feelings with each other. You can also share advice on how to safeguard yourself against the impact of the news and how to take care of your mental health.

Traumatic news can have a significant impact on our minds and emotions. It is crucial to recognise its possible negative effects, take appropriate countermeasures, and seek support when needed. Remember to protect your mental health!


Source: Young Post