Lack of trust, uncertainty, anxiety – they are all topics that are coming up in the therapy room relating to the political turmoil of the past few months and years.
And now a General Election is five weeks away.
It’s the third time the country has gone to the polls since 2015 to choose who will run it.
But does this impending election impact even further on people’s mental health and wellbeing?
“What is happening politically and nationally really filters through to people’s personal anxieties,” said Norfolk counsellor Jennie Cummings-Knight.
“When there is uncertainty and chaos, when we see a lack of loyalty or are not sure who we can trust, that atmosphere affects our own lives.
“This election is yet another deadline, and we have had a lot of those recently.
“We feel unsafe and unsecure with the rapidity of what is changing around us.
“It definitely increases people’s anxieties.”
Trust, loyalty and uncertainty
Jennie added: “It absolutely does come up in the therapy room. These issues of trust, loyalty and uncertainty are something I talk with my clients about a lot.”
Glasgow-based counsellor Catherine Gallacher said while elections or political uncertainty may be discussed in therapy, they’re not the issue that people present with when they first come to counselling. It’s more likely to be discussed a few sessions into counselling.
“People talk about the uncertainty, the current climate, how they feel about it,” she said.
“It’s a topic of conversation in their families and work environments too. When there are different opinions, there can sometimes be strains and rifts because there are different belief systems.
Judgement and mistrust
“There’s a lot of judgement and mistrust.
“People are not really trusting what they are told. They feel they are being told that something is going to happen, or something is being promised – but they are not sure if that’s really going to be the case.
“All these things can affect people’s underlying issues,” added Catherine.
But there are things you can do to help in this situation.
Positive things in the world
“It’s good to pull back and to have a different perspective,” said Jennie. “Remember what you see in the news is just one perspective, one story. There are many positive things in the world that are happening – we just don’t hear about them on the news.
“Look after yourself,” she added.
“Make sure you have a good work-life balance. Look after the everyday stuff such as sleep, your general health.”
Catherine echoed that.
“I talk to people about how they normally manage their stresses and anxieties. We discuss exercise, nutrition. We look at how they can build their own resilience.”
She added: “When there is that lack of trust of others, or society, or authority, I talk to people about how the only person you can trust is you. I can work with them on their own self-belief, their own resilience. I can’t tell them who to trust or make them trust others, but I can build up trust in themselves, which can help,” said Catherine.
Jennie also recommended trying to limit the time you spend on social media.
“We are so immersed in social media now. We’re surrounded by the news about the election, we can’t get away from it. So try not to be glued to your phone all the time checking social media,” she said.
The final piece of advice comes from Kent counsellor Claire Hershman.
Be kind to yourself
“We feel frightened. We have no idea what’s going on or what’s going to happen next, when an election is coming up.
“The support network you have around you is important. Be around the people you love.”
“Hug the ones you love. Be kind to yourself.”
To find a counsellor or psychotherapist who can help you visit our Therapists Directory.
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