The war in Ukraine is causing devastation for the people directly affected. To a much lesser extent, it also negatively affects those following developments from afar. Twenty-four hour news coverage and social media feeds enable people around the world to stay informed and live through traumatizing events vicariously – yet this sense of connection does not come without a toll on people’s mental health. Time magazine health correspondent Jamie Ducharme takes a deep dive into the mental health consequences of consuming large volumes of negative news, and offers suggestions for mitigating them.
Over-consumption of news about the war in Ukraine takes a toll on people’s mental health.
The war in Ukraine has people around the world glued to news and social media sites for many hours per day. Those living in Ukraine feel they need to keep up-to-date to stay safe, while people who have relatives in the country also feel compelled to keep track of the latest developments. Millions more who are not directly affected by the crisis, are, likewise, taking in a near-constant stream of information about the war, from both traditional media outlets and social media sources. Studies in psychology suggest that such nonstop tracking of catastrophic news events negatively affects people’s mental health.
The Ukraine war comes on the heels of a series of traumatizing events, including the pandemic, climate change and racism, that the news and social media sites covered heavily. The seemingly unending stream of crisis news...