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Coronavirus, the media and mental health

Discussion in 'off topic' started by tiggers, Mar 19, 2020.

  1. tiggers

    tiggers pfm Member

    Apologies Tony for the new thread and if you want to merge it please do, but I think this may warrant its own focus.

    I keep reading and hearing that mental health is becoming an issue already with the Coronavirus outbreak, but I can't help but feel the very people publishing these articles are partly the cause. While undoubtedly the virus outbreak is seriously bad news on several fronts the way it is handled by the media is not really helping those who suffer from anxiety and other mental health issues. They seem to revel in the doom and go to extraordinary lengths to make things sound worst case scenario.

    A couple of examples from the BBC (this is not solely a comment on them, but on the media in general, however I have spent some time studying the BBC's response so will use them).

    1) Every day they are keen to let us know the age of the youngest person to have died from the virus... they seem to almost celebrate if someone younger than the previous case has been found. Yet try and find the oldest person to have recovered on their output ... I can't (it's a 103 year old in Iran if you want to know).

    2) When the virus first started to take hold they gleefully found some scientists who were wheeled on to the TV to tell us all that a vaccine would not be available for testing for at least 8 months and then would take another year to get to market. The vaccines being tested were created in less than 6 weeks. The BBC is still telling everyone it will be 18 months... if you dig you find the words 'up to' mentioned in the detail, but not in the headlines. It may still be 18 months, but it may be a lot less... this needs reporting and they are irresponsible to not give people proper headline information and instead try and bury it in the detail.

    Now we hear that the BBC are to ramp up Coronavirus output, taking over existing slots with updates about the virus, phone ins, health programming. If I thought they would use this output wisely I would support it, but instead it will be, at least in part, more shit stirring and doomsday style programming.

    Leo Varadkar had this to say in his address to the Irish people a couple of days ago

    "Please take regular breaks from watching news and media, and from consuming social media. Constantly scrolling on your phone or obsessively following the latest developments is not good for anyone.

    Look after your mental health and well-being as well as your physical health"

    I know some on here probably think I'm a bit of a twat as I can be in my posts and for that I apologise to those I have lashed out at. In truth I suffer from anxiety and sometimes my posts are driven by that, but to stay on topic I have found myself in a much more positive place in the last couple of days by trying to only absorb the facts about Coronavirus and staying away from the conjecture (at least to a point). I am going to try even harder in the next few days to further distance myself from the tittle tattle of the media and get on with more positive things as a) it affects me mentally and b) I despair at some of the nonsense going on .. a lot of it driven by the large social media platforms (something I already deliberately stay away from for the benefit of my mental health).

    So what is the point of this post... well I guess to say that I am sure there will be others on here that will worry and stress over what they see on the TV, read online etc.

    Maybe try and take a break from it if so and don't be afraid to admit to yourself that you are struggling with it all. It's a worrying time on several fronts and no one should ever be judged on how they react to a crisis like this.. we are all different. It is not weak to admit mental health issues despite what society seems to do to stigmatise them in a lot of cases.

    Finally we have a PM system on here (conversations) so use it.. get in touch with fellow fishies (especially those who might be more isolated than others) and share some thoughts. If anyone wants to drop me a PM for a bit of shared support go for it (lol at the thought of several posters thinking 'is he mad... he's a twat'). I have already been in touch with one fishie and just a quick personal exchange can be very uplifting... just knowing you are not alone in your thinking helps.

    Above all stay safe and try and find some positives in all this. I am finally going to sort my compilation CDs properly... OCD or what? :D
    MichaelC, Hiesteem, roman and 34 others like this.
  2. Del monaco

    Del monaco Del Monaco

    This is an excellent, sensitive and considered post. Having worked with mental health as part of my daily role and having suffered periods myself I fully endorse what you are saying. The media is culpable and I feel that the focus on the negative is often politically led. I would like to know more about survival stories and how people are pushing back against the anxiety because people will be. We are going for daily walks and we focus on projects at home, keeping the TV off, listening to music of course. Also how to cook with veg and alternative ingredients as panic buying has obliterated the everyday basics. There are some excellent apps that can help with anxiety and depression.
    Thank you for posting this.I hope this generates a lot of ideas.
    Hiesteem, roman, Mullardman and 4 others like this.
  3. Bob McC

    Bob McC Living the life of Riley

    Good post.
    Luckily I have never found a use for twitter and still don’t know what is but from cut and pastes I see it is among the worst for driving the more lurid stories along with the red tops and pap like the Express and Mail.

    Anyway here’s an uplifting true story.

    A successful young restaurateur called Nico with a chain of restaurants behind him called a staff meeting this week. One of the staff was a young man who had arrived as a refugee with £200 in his locker a few years ago. He had survived by living on the street and hostels. He had applied for a job as a pot washer when Nico first started with his first restaurant. Nico saw something in the lad. His willingness to learn, his work ethic etc. So he gradually taught him up starting with knife skills. The lad worked his way up until he became head chef at this restaurant. Nico meanwhile developed the business across the rest of the UK.
    At the staff meeting to acknowledge the contribution one of his first recruits had made to the business Nico gave the young man the Glasgow branch of the business and renamed it his name.
    Cheered me up no end when I read that.

    Hiesteem, roman, Fatmarley and 7 others like this.
  4. Gaycha

    Gaycha pfm Member

    Well considered and thought out post Tigger, made all the more poignant being non-politicised.

    Time to care for our neighbours real and virtual, within the constraints of 'distance'.

    All for Contributing to cooking thrift recipes, gardening, reading recommendations, non electronic family games to play - diy project etc.

    Many folk with many skills and advice capability are about. FoC at these times. Use it.

    MikeMA, Big Tabs and tiggers like this.
  5. Seanm

    Seanm pfm Member

    Yes, 24 hour rolling news, plus political correspondents breaking news on Twitter, plus general lack of transparency or consistency on government's part is quite a heady brew. I find clarity helps, but that constant news consumption is not the way to achieve it and is in itself almost debilitating. I'm doing my best to restrict my consumption of news to two or three short periods a day. I'm not watching TV news. I'm treating Twitter as a news aggregator, linking mostly to sober US and Irish articles.
    Roger Adams and tiggers like this.
  6. sq225917

    sq225917 Bit of this, bit of that

    My mrs is front line accute mental health services, hey daily involves home visits and managing a team of psychiatrists, psychologists, other clinicians and support staff. Her team has been decimated as several members are from at risk groups, the result is they're at about 30% capacity in what was already an understaffed team. It's only going to get worse as their ability to interact with clients shrinks further.

    If its stressing you out, stop watching social media, stay at home, read a good book, take some exercise. Chill out.
    Hiesteem, Roger Adams and tiggers like this.
  7. deebster

    deebster Half Man Half Biscuit

    Yeah, good post @tiggers

    When the world was about to go to hell in a handbasket at the turn of 1999/2000 new year I was living on a small island off the coast of Thailand, with no access to any news beyond the occasional day-old copy of The Bangkok Post.

    Now in Birmingham with a wife and two kids all in the house together for the foreseeable future and with two parents in their late 70s up the road I'm trying to hold a little of the feeling I had then for the times when anxiety strikes.

    Then I was 30 and careless, now 51 and responsible for more than my own big mouth to feed it's a vastly different situation, but after taking all the reasonable precautions I feel I can a little of the what will be will be approach I'm finding helps. Not just for me, but for keeping a positive outlook and sense of calm for the benefit of those who depend on me.

    It's clear many of us are feeling anxious and that has come out a bit on some of the virus threads. I was going to suggest we have a thread like this one to just (pun only mildly intended) breathe out on, so thank you for starting it.
    Gromit, davcoll, Seanm and 3 others like this.
  8. Roger Adams

    Roger Adams pfm Member

    In a nutshell deebster. When on the small island (which one out of interest), you had no access to much of the news or social media allowing you to remain sabai sabai. :)

    Books and a music collection are, IMHO, the best forms of media for many at times like these. Stress causes my seizures to increase - fortunately I now get valium prescribed as an anti convulsant.
    Hiesteem and tiggers like this.
  9. Dozey

    Dozey Air guitar member

    Being single and an introvert my mental health is great - fewer tiresome social events. Must be a problem for extroverts. I sympathise.
    tiggers likes this.
  10. richardg

    richardg Admonishtrator

    This is how I search the news at the moment:
    uk news -coronavirus

    Impossible to get away from it in off-topic, though.
    tiggers likes this.
  11. wylton

    wylton pfm Member

    My youngest daughter, who is a very social person, is worried about isolation, having been told to work from home for four months. The upside is though, that having had to cancel the planned family meal at a restaurant last night, they came to us for the evening instead, which was really nice.

    I'm the opposite to my daughter; I quite like my own company.

    I reckon it's a good idea to choose your source of information and stick with it. Try to keep update with the latest news, but avoid most of the media that is over sensationalising the situation, including normally reliable sources of news such as C4 news. It really bugs me when the news reporter asks a question of a studio guest and then asks another exactly the same question in the hope that he or she will get the answer that they were looking for.

    For my part, I retired yesterday, so I no longer have to go to work!

    We have a UK holiday next week; it's an isolated cottage, so we'll cook our own meals, keep ourselves amused, and take the dog for walks.
    tiggers and deebster like this.
  12. deebster

    deebster Half Man Half Biscuit

    Koh Chang, the one closest to the Cambodia border. Kai Bae beach to be more exact, and No Name Bar just in case you or anyone went there.
  13. wylton

    wylton pfm Member

    The other annoying thing, is that suddenly, everybody (including here on pfm), is a virus expert!
  14. Woodface

    Woodface pfm Member

    This may be a little controversial. I really wish there was a more unified Comms strategy across the medical profession, opinions of medics do carry weight but there is disunity on the comments being given which does greatly add to anxiety.

    Yesterday Jack highlighted a piece from the Lancet by a respected surgeon proffering his views on CV. How would he react if a behavioural scientist or epidemiologist walked into his operating theatre & advised him how to perform a hip replacement?

    I am not saying they should be Govt cheerleaders but Op Ed pieces are massively problematic imho.
    tiggers likes this.
  15. tiggers

    tiggers pfm Member

    Thanks for the replies everyone, to pick up on a point @Gaycha made I am happy to offer advice on any DIY projects people might decide to undertake while cooped up at home. I have built 2 of my own houses and am currently renovating a windmill (as in I am doing 90% of the work myself) so this is something I actually do know plenty about (nod to you Joe :D ). Feel free to fire away.

    On a further point @Del monaco, you mentioned some apps to help with anxiety/depression. Could you maybe list one or two if you have time? Many thanks.
    Hiesteem, Joe and Gaycha like this.
  16. Heckyman

    Heckyman pfm Member

    For Covid-19 info I try to stick more to the science journals/reports, and PFM of course! Never use TV or social media for news and don't read the papers. I've tried Twitter and like it but it's too addictive for me and any social media accounts I access via a desktop web browser.

    Checking the live blogs and dashboards is a recent habit I probably need to quit before it takes root!

    Molecular biology was a past interest, so lately I was really motivated to find out as much as I could about the virus, partly out of interest, partly as preparation to inform personal actions. Though I'm probably approaching saturation point with that now.

    For general news I have print subs to the Economist and Private Eye and since C-19 I've regularly picked up New Scientist. Consuming news more on a weekly basis frees the mind without becoming totally uniformed. Podcasts are cool too.
    tiggers likes this.
  17. Gaycha

    Gaycha pfm Member

    If I can help anyone with issues of home computing, streaming, networking etc. Feel free to pm/post.

    Ditto gardening.

    Can't help with virus studies...
    tiggers likes this.
  18. Del monaco

    Del monaco Del Monaco

    Of course. One of the most well known and used apps is Headspace, often recommended by practitioners. It takes a while to get used to the voice but once you have progressed it works well alongside other activities. Others include Breathe2relax and Calm though IMO Headspace is the best. You can also use the breathe app on Apple Watch if you have this. It appears a very simple technique but can be highly effective in allowing you to have a break and lower your breathing and heart rate. It helps to have a close friend or partner to share your concerns with and activities recommended include walking, running, doing weights at the Gym,listening to calming music, sharing activities with others, projects including tidying, organising(hi fi!!!!) or projects(Pi projects for hi fi!!!!), having nookie(if you're lucky), spending time with pets, animals(in a purely plutonic way) and a regular focus on breath control. Above all, if you are constantly anxious and this is affecting your everyday life, see the GP. There are some effective medications on the market.
    Hope that's OK.
    Hiesteem, tiggers and Gaycha like this.
  19. blossomchris

    blossomchris I feel better than James Brown

    My daughter is a CPN on the critical team, the abuse they receive is beyond me. Some on here would have no idea of the stress they could suffer.
    I fail to understand people who abuse the caring/health workers.

    sean99, twotone, sq225917 and 7 others like this.
  20. Roger Adams

    Roger Adams pfm Member

    Ah! I'm hoping to move to the mainland. There's a smaller Koh Chang there - on the border with Myanmar. It's surrounded by 3 national parks and the tourists haven't found it, or its neighbour yet :) A good way to protect one's mental health in times like this.

    Anyway enough! Just no cases anywhere near there :) Apologies if the post offends.

    We still have just the one case in Windsor and Maidenhead. Windsor is deserted which is totally bizarre given its tourist status. My doctor reports it's crazy as there is a queue outside the surgery and down the road for "on the day" appointments from 7am and they have not seen anything suggestive of a case to date. They all have a cold.They now have a big sign outside telling people to go away and to call 111.

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