I came across this article in Al Jazeera that is arguably an amalgamation of my entire universe. The article deals with the impact that mental health and depression have on voting. As you’d likely expect, people who suffer from mental illness are less likely to vote.
That’s a problem under the best of circumstances, but it’s an even more acute one in the pandemic, when rates of mental illness have shot through the roof, potentially being enough to keep thousands of voters at home. In an election like this one, it’s possible that this could make a difference in some key states.
According to the article, studies have directly correlated depression and not voting. The research that was done indicated that this may be the case for many reasons, including:
- A depressed person may not have the energy to engage in voting or the prep work that goes into voting.
- They may not have the mental/emotional energy to participate in the political process in general.
- There is a correlation between financial distress and depression, and this often leads to not voting.
- Feelings of depression lead to apathy, which leads to feelings that voting is an utterly irrelevant activity.
Interestingly enough, anxiety seems to actually motivate people to get involved in the political process, because people view the political process as a way to reduce anxiety. It gives them some measure of control over their anxiety.
I want to spin that message back to depression. I get it – better than most – that depressions leads to feelings of hopelessness, and this ultimately ties back to the idea that voting is a pointless, useless activity. However, I am begging you, don’t let that be you. There is too much at stake.
Some personal thoughts, too. One of the things that really has damaged my mental health – and lead to quite a bit of anxiety and depression – is when I am experiencing something that I have no control over. I can’t control whether or not I win my reelection. I can’t control if something will happen to my wife or my kids tomorrow. Yes, there are measures I can take, there are things I could do, but I can’t control everything. None of us can.
All we can do to feel better is accept that, but also take prudent measures to positively influence an outcome. Remember: Voting is all about control. For all the challenges, for all the roadblocks, we can still change the outcome of our government. We can still make it ours again – yours again. Voting is the ultimate measure of control over what the government can and should do. Seize it back.
Please, go vote!