There is a mental health pandemic caused by fear and loneliness: the Government is actively stoking it and must stop.
Fear is being deliberately created to control behaviour. This crosses a barrier into seriously unethical practice by the Government’s behavioural scientists.
The Advertising Standards Authority has had to intervene to tell the Government to remove some of its scaremongering advertising as the claims made are false.
Fear is not justified – people are obeying the rules and deserve to be fully informed.
Ofcom guidance keeps good news off the broadcast media in case it undermines restrictions, making problems worse.
FEAR: SAGE’S DIRTY BOMB
Fear is our most powerful emotion. It is rooted deep within the inner reaches of our minds. When we are afraid, we do dangerous and irrational things.
We can forget who we are. We lash out or run away.
Manipulating mankind’s most primitive instincts to change people’s behaviour is taken from the textbook of tyrants. It shuts down reason and twists reality. It can make us do things we would otherwise know to be wrong. But it gets results.
Panic and phobia prevent rational thought. Demagogues and cult leaders from Charles Manson to Adolf Hitler have used them to instil behaviours that their followers would reject instantly if they were thinking clearly. That’s why the deliberate creation of fear to control behaviour has long been regarded as unacceptable by experts in psychology and politics.
The Covid-19 epidemic changed all that.
Over the past year, we have seen the biggest campaign of fear that the world has ever seen. And it has been at its worst in the UK, where SAGE and the Government took a conscious decision to use fear to ensure that people comply with restrictions.
We now face an unprecedented mental health crisis.
Fear has been used like a dirty bomb by SAGE and the fall-out is contaminating every aspect of life.
“A substantial number of people still do not feel sufficiently personally threatened. The perceived level of personal threat needs to be increased among those who are complacent, using hard-hitting emotional messaging.”
Susan Michie and Robert West, SPI-B (behavioural science subcommittee of SAGE)
The country now has such a phobia of disease that a minister has only to mention the possibility of a new vaccine-resistant strain of Covid for millions of people to back the most oppressive restrictions imaginable. Support for and compliance with the rules has far exceeded Government expectations.
On Christmas Day, the Times reported key SAGE member Neil Ferguson saying of the lockdown, copied from China:
“It’s a communist one party state, we said. We couldn’t get away with it in Europe, we thought. And then Italy did it. And we realised we could.”
Times, 25 December 2020
Fear made it possible – but at a terrible price.
We’re facing what both Public First and MIND warn is ‘a mental health pandemic’. Millions of us are suffering.
A TERRIFYING CAMPAIGN
We’ve all seen the panic-inducing posters and videos, such as: “Look them in the eyes and tell them you’re doing all you can to stop Covid-19.” They form part of a campaign on which the Government has spent hundreds of millions of our money, making it the UK’s No.1 advertiser in 2020.
Broadcasters justify a daily diet of terrifying sensationalised and misleading stories with reference to emergency Ofcom rules, introduced at the Government’s behest, which ban any story that might undermine compliance with the rules. Posters at every supermarket and railway station use imagery and language designed with one aim in mind: to ensure obedience through fear.
There has been a sustained drive to induce mass panic and phobia of disease. And it has succeeded. Millions of people in the UK are now incapable of thinking rationally about Covid-19. Polling indicates that the average person believes it is at least 100 times more deadly than it actually is. Many will embrace any painful sacrifice they are told will protect them, regardless of the evidence, and back repressive measures to force others to do the same.
THE IMPACT OF FEAR
- The Centre for Mental Health estimates that about 8.5 million adults and 1.5 million children in England will need support for depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorders and other mental health difficulties in the coming months and years.
- This is approximately 20% of all adults and 15% of all children.
- 6,000 people died unnecessarily during the first lockdown alone because they were too frightened to go to hospital: literally scared to death – Office for National Statistics (ONS).
- Experts warn that we face an epidemic of suicides with young people most likely to be victims.
NEW TRAGEDIES EVERY DAY
The figures highlight the scale of the problem, but it’s the personal experiences we hear about every day that bring home the reality for many. For most, their story is too painful for us to share it here.
However, Rosalind’s case made press headlines. She was a loving grandmother who was terrified of catching Covid-19 after watching news reports and listening to Government advice. Her husband described her as a worrier – someone who was particularly vulnerable to anxiety. People like her are most at risk from the campaign of fear.
She caught a cold. No-one really knows what thoughts went through her head, but she was terrified of giving Covid to her family. She threw herself under an express train. The driver says she stood on the line ahead of him – there was no way he could stop in time – and dropped her head in the moment before the impact.
She’s one of thousands who would likely still be alive today but for the campaign of fear. She leaves a loving husband who misses her desperately and grandchildren who will never see her again.
THE APPROACH: EXAGGERATE, DISTORT, MISDIRECT, LIE
Where the facts are deemed inadequate to create the required levels of fear, the truth is disregarded. Inconvenient data are ignored or dismissed; distortions or downright untruths abound.
FALSE CLAIM UK Government radio advertising said that dog walkers and joggers are highly likely to have Covid
A blatantly misleading statement. The Advertising Standards Authority told the Government to remove it. Millions have no idea the claim was untrue: it was never corrected.
FALSE CLAIM The Government ran advertising saying that one in three people have Covid
The official estimates were that no more than one in 50 people had it.
FALSE CLAIM This month, the ONS claimed that Covid-19 caused more death in 2020 than any other disease for more than a century.
Its highly misleading study omitted other killer diseases, excluding, for example, the more deadly 1918 flu epidemic which saw around 250,000 deaths.
A PEASHOOTER AGAINST THE DALEKS
If, like millions, you’re suffering the effects of fear, Recovery has experts in its mental health groups who can help. We run a free clinic every Thursday evening with leading experts such as Felix Economakis, Chartered Counselling Psychologist, Zoe Clews, Clinical Hypnotherapist, and Recovery co-founder Neil Shah, who heads the Stress Management Society – find it on Twitter and YouTube. It’ll continue as long as we can continue to raise the funds.
However, it’s a peashooter against daleks. No-one can match the power and resources of the Government to create fear.
Even if we could, it’s much harder to remove fear than to create it. The best hope for all of us is to persuade the Government to stop its campaign, to allow a proper public debate, and to reassure the public with a balanced and proportionate assessment of the threat.
PLEASE SUPPORT THE CAMPAIGN
Help us upgrade the peashooter 🙂
The Government has almost limitless funds for its campaigns. Its message is backed by a formidable set of allies, from big tech companies who are making fortunes from switching commerce online to broadcasters who love a scary headline.
What do we have? People like you. No billions, no big tech backers, no broadcasters keen to calm panicking people down.
We will win because we are in the right. But we desperately need your support. Please back the campaign and, if you can, make a donation. We’ll make it count.
You can also help by:
- Contacting MPs, broadcasters, and Ofcom to ask them to remove the Ofcom guidance which pushes broadcasters to terrify the public.
- Complaining about examples of scaremongering whenever you see them.
MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORT
Normally, every year, one in four of us will experience a mental health problem. But these are not normal times – the UK is suffering from a mental health epidemic:
- 90% of mums say their mental health has been negatively impacted experiencing levels of stress and anxiety
- 63% of students felt Covid-19 posed either a big or significant risk to their mental or physical health
- 22% of young adults (18-24yrs) experienced suicidal thoughts or feelings
- 1 in 6 children ‘likely to have a mental disorder’ – rates of mental disorders among children increased by almost half since 2017, with Covid and lockdown identified as aggravating factors
- Loneliness is affecting 26% of citizens
- Feelings of hopelessness affecting 18% of people
- Since the start of the restrictions in March 2020, 65% of people felt more stressed, 53% more anxious, and 44% more depressed
The Centre for Mental Health estimates that approximately 20% of all adults and 15% of all children in England will need support for depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorders and other mental health difficulties in the coming months and years.
Mental ill-health remains the biggest contributor to overall population ill-health in the UK. Yet, there continues to be stigma attached to discussing it and Mental Health is severely underfunded in the UK, with only 4 in 10 people who need it receiving mental health support.
There are numerous reasons the past year why most of us are experiencing a mental health problem, some are less obvious than others.
Being mindful of the drivers negatively impacting your mental health is the first step to getting the right help for yourself:
- Financial hardship – 14.4 million people, including 8.5 million working-age adults, were living in poverty before the Covid-19 crisis
- Catching Covid-19 or becoming seriously ill – something concerning 28% of people
- Loneliness matters for mental health because connections with others help us cope with difficulties. Loneliness can also impair brain function and cognition.
- Scaremongering in the media – 27% say they feel the news media have exaggerated the crisis. Unfortunately sensationalism sells, leading much of the media to avoid putting the facts around COVID-19 into perspective and exaggerating the risk to the 99.95% of the population who will not get seriously ill from the virus
- Anxiety – the Government’s Campaign of Fear is likely to be a significant contributor to this
- Vaccines –18.5% of adults (18 – 59 yrs) and 29.2% of young adults (<30 yrs) say they are ‘very unlikely’ to get the vaccine. The tactics being used to coerce them into taking a vaccine are likely making them very anxious. This includes Westminster’s suggestions a vaccine may be necessary to work in certain jobs; to partake in social activities; for international travel.
Recovery provide weekly clinics where you can put your concerns to our three experts. Due to high demand we may be unable to get through all concerns and so you may also find the following support tools useful.
- Information for young people aged 11-18
- Apps to support adults and young people – summary provided by NHS and MIND
- Isolation – online and offline creative activities
- Struggling to talk? Run Talk Run or Walk Talk Walk may be for you
- Suicidal thoughts – helplines
- All mental health concerns – Mind’s self-help tool and Infoline (0300 123 3393) can be a life-saver
Are you concerned about others? Many groups of people do not talk about their mental health and so you may need to prompt them to really see how they are feeling:
- Men – 77% of men polled have suffered with anxiety/stress/depression, yet 40% of men won’t talk to anyone about their own mental health. Tips to start the conversation
- Children – 1 in 6 children ‘likely to have a mental disorder’ – tips to starting the conversation
To register or ask questions from our in-house experts go to www.recoveryourspark.com
You can watch our previous clinics HERE
Raising awareness of stress and personal welling is essential. To support you in this, we have created a whole host of free resources at Stress Awareness month at www.stress.org.uk/stressawarenessmonth. This includes online courses, free resources, online stress tests, printable posters, social media posts, a stress-busting colouring book and much more.