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COVID-19: Avoiding Misinformation

bullying infographic - six blue figures with exclamation point speech balloons surrounding red figure with question mark speech balloonby Latasha Willis, Community Engagement Specialist

If you’ve heard of the concept of mindfulness, you know that being in the present or in the moment can be a form of relaxation or stress reduction. However, what if the present is a source of stress, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, for example. Then what do you do? How can you apply mindfulness in this situation? The best way to approach it in this case is to be more aware of bad assumptions and reflexive thinking that might be more harmful than helpful.

Thanks to social media, email, blogs and other online options, news can travel fast. Unfortunately, some of that news can be false or misleading. In the case of the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of unusual falsehoods and conspiracy theories are circulating, resulting in mass fear, virtual confrontations and ended friendships.

Some of the wild stories you may have heard include rumors about a scientist creating the coronavirus, the virus being transmitted via 5G networks, and other misnomers. These rumors can be overwhelming and confusing, and for someone who has a mental health condition that includes symptoms such as delusions or paranoia, these falsehoods can actually be dangerous to a person’s psychological well being.

To protect your mental health from the damaging effects of misinformation, here are some tips you can use:

  • Check the source of the information. Is it just a meme that’s been passed around with the assumption of being true? Are there any reliable articles from trusted organizations to back it up, or is it coming from an individual or a blog with a personal agenda? Be careful what you absorb.
  • Does it make sense? For instance, how would a virus be transmitted via radio waves if radio waves have no solid physical structure?
  • Don’t take their word for it. Go to sites such as snopes.com, factcheck.org or hoax-slayer.com to look up a rumor or conspiracy theory that you have heard about. Most likely, it has already been disproven. Specifically for COVID-19, go to cdc.gov or who.int for expert information.

We hope these tips will keep you mentally safe and informed.

Reminder: Also view this web page from NAMI with tips on dealing with the pandemic.

If you need emotional support during this time, please call the NAMI HelpLine Monday-Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., CT at (800) 950-6264 or text NAMI to 741-741.

(Brett Mayfield, NAMI Mississippi Board President, contributed to this article.)

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