November 2020 Newsletter

Words and mental health

Following the outcome of the American election with accusations flying, threats, protests and a potential tinderbox ready to explode across America, this month’s health article looks at how words can affect our mental health.

Now, I don’t usually follow American politics as we have enough of our own political shenanigans occurring here in Australia.

So, I was wondering why this time?

This election and its outcome had deeply affected me.

The importance of the outcome of this election comes down to the old idiom of “sticks and stones may break our bones, but words will never hurt us”.

Unfortunately, this idiom is ‘fake news’ as words can affect us both positively and negatively.

We have collectively been pummelled by countless aggressive tweets and negative words from President Trump over the last four years which have been reported across all forms of media ad nauseam and resulted in a divided America and a shattered world.

Upon hearing that President Trump lost the election and then listening to President Elect Biden’s and Vice President Elect Harris’s speeches, their words inspired a sense of calm and hope for the future of America and by default, the rest of the world.

Their words alone seemed to smother the volatile situation.

Studies using brain scans have discovered that the neurological response when hearing, imagining or speaking negative words release stress and anxiety-inducing hormones which cause short-term stress and can exacerbate and promote long term stress and mental illness.

Positive words from leaders, the media, society and from within ourselves can have positive effects on our health and potentially affect the rest of society in a positive way.

Mental health has been at the forefront of primary healthcare for many years.

COVID-19 made sure it became front and centre as people lost their liberties through lock-downs, changes in working habits and the loss of social interaction.

What we need more than ever are leaders that can bring together society; local, national and international that offer hope through the use of positive language without the negative rhetoric that flows through so much of our daily lives.

Once the shadow of President Trump disappears, hopefully America and the rest of the world can repair itself through the power of words and positive actions.

If you do feel that things are getting on top of you, talk to your family, your preferred health care provider or call Lifeline on 13 11 14.