Seeing Red After Feeling Blue - The Effects of the Election on Mental Health
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When it comes to maintaining the mental health and wellness of American citizens, the 2016 presidential election cycle has been less than ideal. In a recent article in Politico, therapists and their clients described how the last several months of political turmoil have thrown them for a loop. One psychologist even commissioned a poll of 1,000 voter-age respondents to probe the emotional impact of the election.
The results: nearly 30 percent of respondents reported emotional distress due to Hillary Clinton’s campaign, while over 40 percent reported emotional distress due to Donald Trump’s campaign. A whopping 90 percent of those who reported emotional distress felt that the toll of this election was worse than any other election in the past, offering perspective into the current general American psyche. But most public health issues—including mental well being—impact different people differently. Similarly, we might expect the mental health and wellness of certain groups of Americans to be more susceptible to the impact of the 2016 presidential election cycle. The effects could vary across state and party lines.
From the night of Election Day up until now, there have been a surge of riots, protests, shootings, and a lot of hatred being spat towards many individuals. On the other side of the spectrum, there are many individuals who are suffering from anxiety--many do not feel safe in the States, and many are terrified for the lives of their loved ones and their communities. Despite the heated discourses, there are circulations of positive and uplifting messages throughout social media. Even though four long years of Trump may seem unbelievable to some, several positive came out of the 2016 election.
Omar commanded an impressive win for a Democratic House position in Minnesota, a Somali refugee and Muslim American. After her win, Omar told the Star Tribune, "It's the beginning of something new... Throughout this campaign, those divisions have started to melt away. People are starting to see themselves as part of a community."
Jayapal, a Washington state senator, won a landslide 57 percent victory to become the first Indian American Congresswoman. Jayapal actively supports women's rights as well as those of minorities and immigrants.
Despite being the incumbent in the election, Brown won her first election officially on the Oregon ballot. Brown assumed her role back in 2012 after Oregon's previous governor resigned in scandal. Her win marks a huge progression towards LGBTQ acceptance in politics.
Duckworth, an Army war veteran, won the race to become Illinois' first Thai American senator, the nation's second Asian American senator, and the first female senator to have served an Army combat role.
Harris broke a 24-year senator streak to become California's first ever black senator. She is only the second black female politician ever to be elected to the U.S. Senate.
In a heated race, Cortez Masto helped the Democrats retain their Senate Minority as she assumes one of Nevada's senator seats. Cortez Masto is the daughter of a Mexican immigrant and "believes everyone deserves a chance," according to President Obama.
Murphy is the first Vietnamese American woman — and second ever Vietnamese American person — elected Congress. She is a daughter of Vietnamese refugees, the first woman in her family to go to college, and an individual who hopes to empower women entrepreneurship. She received endorsements from President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and the Human Rights Campaign.
Rather than dwelling on the emotions of disappointment while letting fear shock and numb our systems, hone that energy to focus and fight the issues that plague our community. Intolerance and disgust with those of opposed views will only create regression, not progression or improvements. Our struggles as minorities have been long standing before the 2016 election; it’s in our best interest to move forward with open minds and show support for one another in eliminating these inequalities.
As Don Freeman once said, “We need to stop looking to politicians to make our world better. Politicians don’t make the world a better place. Everything that’s ever made the world a better place has come from inventors, engineers, scientists, teachers, artists, builders, philosophers, healers, and people that choose love over hate.”
For those who would like to have a dialogue or seek help in regards to dealing with emotions about the 2016 election:
If you're struggling with anxiety, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness Information Helpline on (800) 950-NAMI (6264).
If you need to talk to someone, call the Samaritans 24-Hour Crisis Hotline (212) 673-3000. Crisis Text Line serves anyone in any type of crisis. Text "START" to 741741 from anywhere in the USA and a crisis counselor will help you accordingly.
For students: talk to your professors, Chancellors, Student Body/Government; or convene in spaces of solidarity within your ethnic, religious, or social organizations/clubs
For those that are hurting, you are not alone. We, the Vietnamese-American community and the team from Chopsticks Alley, are with you in support and solidarity.
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With her driving passion of health sciences, Jullianne aims to provide service, research, and education towards Asian-American communities in order to close the gap of health disparities that people of color face. She has worked alongside physicians and surgeons in the San Joaquin County as a Decision Medicine Intern, and has worked closely with the Vietnamese-American community in the Bay Area to raise awareness about unspoken diseases as a Community Health Outreach Intern at the Asian Liver Center of Stanford University. As an aspiring Physician Assistant with a concentrated service within the Asian-American community, Jullianne hopes to discuss and expose the unspoken diseases and health issues that do not create dialogue within the Vietnamese household and community.