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Philadelphia Provides Resources to Manage Post-Election Stress

According to the American Physiological Association 2016 Presidential Election Source of Significant Stress for More Than Half of Americans

PHILADELPHIA, PA –  According to the American Psychological Association, 52 percent of American adults report that the 2016 election is a very or somewhat significant source of stress. The survey was conducted online among adults 18+ living in the U.S. by Harris Poll.

Philadelphia’s Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual DisAbility Services (DBHIDS) understands that Philadelphians may be feeling particularly stressed as a response to last night’s election results.

Stress and increased emotions can manifest differently in all residents, however, the presence of this stress should not to be underestimated. Immense and/or chronic stress can lead to anxiety, increased alcohol use, depression, and other serious health issues.

“If you are having a stressful reaction to the election, it’s important to keep a balanced perspective and help yourself or those around you to cope with post-election stress,” said Dr. Arthur Evans, Commissioner of DBHIDS. “We have developed a number of strategies and resources to help our community members become and stay strong, resilient and well.”

While emotional responses are common and understandable, it’s important people take action to effectively cope and manage stress. Please find some helpful tips below.

Here are suggestions to manage post-election stress (from the American Psychological Association):

  • If the 24-hour news cycle of claims and counterclaims is causing you stress and/or upsetting you, limit your media consumption. Turn off the TV. Take some time for yourself, go for a walk, or spend time with friends and family doing things that you enjoy.
  • Avoid getting into discussions about the election results, especially if you think they have the potential to escalate to conflict. Be cognizant of the frequency with which you’re discussing the results with friends, family, or coworkers.
  • Ruminating about what may happen in the future is not productive. Channel your concerns to make a positive difference on issues you care about. Consider volunteering in your community, advocating for an issue you support or joining a local group. Remember that there are opportunities for civic involvement.
  • If you are having trouble focusing or even going about your routine due to fear, try writing down your worst post-election fears, then address them. If you write them down on a piece of paper, you can address them one by one. Fact check. Think about what is actually possible. Hopefully, this exercise will help you relax and find some peace.
  • If you are experiencing a sense of panic, remember that very little will change overnight. Try to remind yourself that in the weeks to come, there will be very little immediate change for you and/or your family. The new president will not take office until January. And remember, our political system and the three branches of government mean that we can expect a significant degree of stability immediately after a major transition of government. Avoid catastrophizing, and maintain a balanced perspective.
  • According to a recent American Psychological Association article, social media users were more likely to report increased stress related to the election. If using social media is increasing your stress and charging you to respond emotionally, take a break from social media to remove the stressor.
  • Lastly, research shows that being a member of a faith community can provide important social support and comfort during stressful times. Faith can also help us to put events in proper perspective.

If you are still feeling emotional or increased stress, here are some additional resources below:

  • Visit Healthy Minds Philly and take a free, 24/7, anonymous, online screening and learn about resources that exist to help you.
  • Call the Philadelphia Warm Line, 855-507-WARM (9276) or 267-507-3945, to speak with a person who also has experienced times of emotional stress. Peers are available Tuesday-Friday from 4-7 p.m.
  • Call our 24/7 Member Service Line, 888-545-2600, to learn about behavioral health services available in Philadelphia.
  • Lastly, if you or someone you care about is in extreme emotional distress and may cause harm to themselves or others, please contact DBHIDS’ Suicide and Crisis Intervention Hotline at (215) 686-4420. Trained suicide/crisis intervention professionals are available 24/7,  365 days a year to provide counseling, consultation, and referrals for people seeking assistance for acute psychiatric needs.

“Although the City cannot predict exactly what’s ahead during the upcoming transition to a new president, we promise one thing will remain constant and that is DBHIDS continues to remain committed to improving the lives of Philadelphians both physically and mentally now and well into the future,” said Dr. Evans.