In the current political climate, there are many things happening. As a late millennial/borderline Gen Z (where are my 1994 babies at?), I can say that I watched the mid-progressive movements make adequate changes to benefit my future – however, politics changed things up since 2016. In June, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in an effort to give the power of choice back to the states which allowed several trigger bans across the country to take place. Many of those states are the dominantly-conservative states. This created an uproar as 50 years of progressive work has been completely tossed into the trash. On top of reproductive rights being threatened and oppressed, the Supreme Court has even been talking about delegitimizing LBGTQ marriages. In recent news, a university claiming they shouldn’t have to approve an LGBTQ club due to their religious beliefs asked the Supreme Court to side with them. So this begs the question, how is this affecting the mental health of people?
The Many Impacts
First, we must take a look at what started this progressive train in 2022. The discussion of a woman’s right to choose the best way of tackling an unwanted/nonviable pregnancy struck the Supreme Court which prompted them to vote the power back to the states to decide. Of course, on paper, this looks like what it’s supposed to be… but the thing is that some states believe that a woman shouldn’t have that right for a slew of reasons such as religious belief (which shouldn’t be considered, because separation of church and state), basic definitions of life, or implicitly, to control women and those who identify as women. When we take a step back and look at the statistics, we see that the majority of women who even consider abortion are women of poverty, mental health struggles, and substance use. Trigger laws/bans affect these women and more. For example, in Texas, women must face trying to find a way to travel to another state for abortion and pay for it – if they choose to or find out that the pregnancy is not viable. It’s been known that women will go so far as discontinuing care altogether out of fear of what could happen if they show up for a routine appointment, and are suddenly not pregnant anymore. Physicians are terrified to give information on acquiring safe abortions outside of the state because they fear prosecution for aiding and abetting. This is leading some physicians to perform procedures that increase risks of complications like a hysterotomy or worse. As these laws carry on, it seems to affect the physicians and clinicians as well due to them not being able to provide the most adequate care under such restrictive laws.
Now let’s consider the LGBTQIA+ community. Many families, parents, and children will be affected if LGBTQIA+ rights are not protected. Not federally protecting LGBTQIA+ rights can (and has) encouraged hate, and that is not conducive to healthy behavior at all. Policies create trauma for members of the LGBTQIA+ community, especially those coming from other countries to seek asylum here. The important thing here is to build healthy coping mechanisms, in case things turn out for the worse as they did for women in regards to Roe v. Wade.
For other minority groups, this essentially creates fear just as it has everyone else. It’s terrifying, even considering how some states (especially in the South) still have “sundown towns” which I won’t explain, but it’s 2022 and they shouldn’t exist.
Emotionalization of Politics
The increase of emotion in the civic aspect, or anxiety and distress based on politics, has created what is called the emotionalization of politics. After the 2016 election, there was an uptick in those visiting therapists, and it created a phenomenon where people would sideline their own personal reasons to receive therapy and focus on their political anxiety. This could be attributed to the fact of all the campaign advertisements making scary promises that affect people’s lives when it shouldn’t be something people must fear.
So a little advice to those who may feel overwhelmed, scared, or just all-around terrified.
- Avoid talking politics where it may lead to a fight or blown-up argument
- Take timeouts as needed
- Utilize some self-care habits
- Take collective action
- Get involved in groups like Planned Parenthood, ACLU, Women’s March, etc.
- Use the fear and anxiety as motivation to fight for our rights
- Taking action is therapeutic!
- Express yourself however you want
- Again, there’s therapeutic value
- Use therapeutic conversation
- talk to your therapist about your feelings, join a public discussion such as my Instagram live sessions every Thursday, etc.
These times are scary, and I want to help in any way I can. I live in an area where I constantly feel like a minority in my sexuality, religious belief, and social stance. I’m terrified daily of hate crimes and disrespect, but I don’t stop fighting for what I believe is my right to live.