Data Shows Pandemic Advertising’s “Negative Spill-Over Effects” Causing Rise in Depression, Fear & Anxiety

When SAGE’s Scientific Pandemic Insights Group on Behaviours at the start of the pandemic recommended the government deliberately use psychological-operations techniques to change behaviour, the use of the media and advertising was advised to “increase the personal sense of threat”. SAGE thought this would be highly effective, though warned there “could be negative spill-over effects”. New survey data shows that negative spill-over effects have happened and have had a dramatic effect on the nation’s mental health.

  • Polling by Yonder for the Recovery campaign reveals that the Government’s pandemic advertising has had a shocking impact on the mental health of the nation. Over 15% of respondents reported depression, anxiety, or fear as a direct result of Government pandemic advertising. That’s equivalent to over 8 million people.
  • A further 7% – the equivalent of over 3.6 million people – report the advertising has made an existing mental health condition worse
  • 3% of responders – equivalent to over 1.5 million people – say that the advertising has brought on an entirely new mental health condition requiring treatment.

Recovery’s Campaign Director, Jon Dobinson, whose day job is as an advertising firm’s CEO, warns

“As long ago as last summer, the leading mental health charity MIND was warning the Government of a mental health pandemic. Independent polling for Recovery at the start of the year revealed that most adults in the UK are now worried about the mental health of someone close to them. Yet the Government responded by launching its most frightening campaign yet with its terrifying ‘look into her eyes’ message … Experts warn that the use of fear to control behaviour is dangerous and unethical, especially when combined with curbs of freedom of speech. If such scaremongering was ever justified, how can it be right now, when the evidence of the horrific damage it is doing is so clear and the threat from Covid-19 has been controlled by a successful vaccination programme? Yet the fear continues. Only this week, Boris Johnson warned of a ‘third wave’ like Europe even though half of our adults are vaccinated. It’s time to treat the public like adults, restore freedom of speech, and stop creating fear.”  

Nationally over 12 million people’s mental health has been damaged by an unprecedented Government advertising campaign specifically designed to create fear. Drilling down the polling shows that the impact has been most severe on younger people and those aged under 40. The Recovery Campaign group has long warned of the dangers to mental health from the prolonged use of fear to control behaviour. A practice that is widely regarded by many psychologists and mental health experts as unethical. With the majority of adults vaccinated the negative-spillover effects on mental health now arguably outweigh the public health benefits…

* Yonder asked a representative sample of 1000 respondents drawn from an Omnibus panel of 200,000 UK adults the question, ‘What impact, if any, has Government advertising such as this had on your mental health over the past year’, showing an example from the Government’s recent ‘look into her eyes’ campaign.
mdi-tag-outline Data SAGE
mdi-timer March 25 2021 @ 10:30 mdi-share-variant mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-printer
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