BROOKE GLADSTONE This is On The Media, I'm Brooke Gladstone. As the prospect of Britain's yet unresolved exit from the European Union looms large many Brits are experiencing what officials, pundits and the media have termed Brexit anxiety.
FEMALE CORRESPONDENT Four out of 10 people report Brexit has had an impact directly on their mental health and one in 10 of them say it's been a large impact.
MALE CORRESPONDENT Britain is suffering from Brexit blues according to health experts and academics. There are warnings that--[END CLIP]
BROOKE GLADSTONE In response to the stories about a surge of Brexit related anxiety, the ailing masses have been advised by mental health professionals and the media to direct their attention away from the whims of politics. Focus instead, they urged, on the aspects of your life you can control like family, sleep and exercise. Dan Degerman is a researcher in philosophy at Lancaster University. His research focuses on the connection between the medicalization of negative emotions and political agency. He told us that the whole Brexit anxiety thing was bogus from the get go.
DAN DEGERMAN There was actually very little evidence to support these claims about an increase in the number of people seeking mental health care. A lot of these articles referred back to mental health blogs which were written by therapists. They were really saying that their existing patients wanted to talk more about Brexit. This makes perfect sense, right? Because that was the thing of that day and it's still is really.
BROOKE GLADSTONE And the reported consequences of not following professional advice?
DAN DEGERMAN You could spiral into a serious mental disorder.
BROOKE GLADSTONE Degerman dug up evidence to support the idea that the Brits were having their legitimate feelings of anxiety about the future of their country delegitimized. Being advised with Goop like sincerity to search inside themselves for calm. He found one such video on YouTube.
DAN DEGERMAN The whole video started with this man. He was a remainer describing how upset he was over Brexit and how he had gotten into these arguments with people.
MAN How has this session helped you?
MAN It's made me realise that I can't do too much about it and that is really what it is then for me to just accept it and let it go rather than scream, shout, kick and be frustrated. [END CLIP]
DAN DEGERMAN His anxiety was it really about the world. It wasn't about Brexit. It was about him.
BROOKE GLADSTONE So if the problem is us, no need to take to the streets right? I asked what his advice would be to sufferers of the Brexit blues.
DAN DEGERMAN To frame it in kind of a British cliché. My advice to people would be to not keep calm and carry on with their lives but really to be emotional about political issues and to find ways of acting in their emotions with other people.
BROOKE GLADSTONE So another voice in favor of not walking away but is that really the answer? Maybe it depends on where you go and for how long.