At What Point are Politics a Mental Health Concern?
Despite the title…politics aside. Seriously I want you to try to forget your political views for a few minutes. I’m serious! Trust me, I have a point……..
As a therapist, I don’t share with clients my political leanings. Partly because I know whatever I would say would sound ignorant because I don’t know nearly as much as I would like to about the political world…but mostly because it doesn’t matter. My political views do not directly impact my client’s mental health, therefore it’s not appropriate to talk about.
But with the election of 2020, politics were discussed a lot in my therapy office. Don’t worry, not my political leanings. But everyone’s anxiety regarding politics. I have clients who have political views all across the board and everyone, no matter what their views, was anxious. So when I say politics were discussed, I should really say that anxiety regarding politics were discussed.
Sooo, if you’ve read any of my previous blog posts, you know that I gave all my clients the same advice: turn off CNN, focus on what you can control, blah, blah, blah….(seriously I even got sick of myself saying these things over and over again).
But here’s why I’m writing this. At what point does a political view turn into a mental health issue?
Let me share with you what happened this week (and I’m sorry but I am redacting some pertinent information to maintain confidentiality…but you’re smart, you can put two and two together).
So a client of mine who I’ve had for many years and I started chatting about COVID-19 and the closures in our county, the vaccine, etc. Nothing political, really just about wanting to get control of this virus so that life can go back to normal. So I made a comment about how I am curious to see what happens after January 20, 2021 (when Joe Biden will be sworn in as the POTUS). I am curious about what things will change regarding the COVID imitative, etc.
This client responded to me and said “Well, you know there’s election fraud”……………sticking with my not sharing any political views stance, I think I just smiled and nodded. And the client continued to say that the news is not telling America what is really going on and that there’s election fraud and “I thought we lived in a democracy” type talk….So I couldn’t resist. After sitting quietly and letting my client go on a bit I finally asked “Wait. If there’s election fraud that we don’t know about because the news is lying…how do you know about it?”….Well, the client responded that they knew about this from a news source (use your imagination, it’s not hard). I attempted to point out that “If all other news sources are lying, how do you know this one is telling the truth?”
Now I’m going to be honest. I do not care about my client’s political views. But what this client told me was completely irrational thinking. If this client had said a similar statement about ANYTHING ELSE, I would have for sure zeroed in on the irrational thinking of thinking that all news sources are bad except for one. That’s not rational. It’s just not.
So I need your help. And this is where I need you to put your political views aside…because at this point, it’s not about political views…it’s about how we’re interpreting the world around us. How we’re interpreting messages being sent to us. Because from everything I’ve learned about psychology…it’s not healthy…so at what point does this turn from not being about politics at all and being about mental health?