Mental Health and the Elections 

This year has been chaotic, overwhelming, stressful, and uncertain. As we approach one of the most contentious and divided Election Days our country has ever seen, it’s completely valid to be feeling anxious or stressed about what comes next. 

Maintaining good mental health throughout Election Day, election night, and the weeks that follow is incredibly important. As you may know, it’s very possible that we won’t have the results of the presidential election tonight. Additionally, tensions may be high among friends and family, on social media and at school and work. 

What is the best way to navigate these times? How can we de-stress during one of the most stressful weeks of the year? Keep reading for some advice and tricks. 

Mental Health Resources 

Elisa Bolton, interim director at the University of New Hampshire’s (UNH) Psychological and Counseling Services (PACS), shared some resources for students. Bolton suggested this study, Eight Questions That Can Help You Survive Election Stress, from the Greater Good Magazine. It outlines questions to ask of ourselves, ways to check in about our mental health and wellbeing. Some examples are “Am I getting enough good news?” and “In light of this election, what are some new ways I can use my special skills or talents to make a difference in the broader world?“ and “What’s happening in my body and mind today?” 

The university is providing several support resources as well. “We have increased the number of urgent appointments that we are able to provide each day. We are providing staff support for post-election processing space being held for marginalized communities hosted by the Beauregard Center and we have created virtual care packages to share with students who feel impacted by the stress and uncertainty of the times,” said Bolton in an email with The New Hampshire. 

WellTrack, “a self-guided and interactive resource to support your mental health and well-being,” is a mental health resource accessible both through the PACS website and through the Health & Wellness website. “It provides information on ways to manage anxiety, stress, and depression,” said Bolton. 

In addition to their typical services, PACS offers crisis counseling and urgent consultation for mental health emergencies in the evenings and weekends by calling 603-862-2090. If students call after hours, all they need to do is press “0” to be connected to a licensed crisis counselor. 

Tips & Tricks 

  1. Social media is a constantly evolving realm of content, people, opinions and information. Especially on a day like today, you may find yourself overwhelmed by what you read and see on social media but still feel unable to pull yourself away. The constant flow of race calls and updates, comments, and conflicting information will seem un-put-downable, but it’s important that you take a break. The news and social media content will still be there after you allow yourself a quick brain refresh.   
  1. Be proactive about seeking positive news. Politically-charged, partisan times like these can foster negativity, and the 24-loop of pundits spouting their spin of information on cable news can make your head spin. There will undoubtedly be some positive stories to come out of today – a cookie bakery that has predicted the past three elections, for example. 
  1. Know that everything will be okay. This country has been through some very dark times, and we have always come out on the other side. No matter what you believe and who you voted for, we are all human beings and at the end of the day, we have to be kind, patient, and caring with each other.