How does watching violent videos like the Tyre Nichols beating affect our mental health

With just our cellphones we have endless access to disturbing videos. And that includes the recently released body camera footage of Tyre Nichols.

The graphic content in the Nichols video is raising concerns about how it might impact mental health.

We start with making a conscious choice about whether to watch the video. Before doing anything mental health counselors say it’s important to know your limits. That’s because watching the video can trigger anxiety. Those mental health professionals say people have a natural tendency to suppress anxiety and that makes things worse.

“When we hold it back it becomes stronger inside of us,” said Trey Tucker, a licensed mental health therapist. “But when we bring it out into the light it tends to weaken and lose some power over us.

“So, it’s really important to talk to somebody in person or over the phone, or connect on social media,” Tucker said. “You’ll see that you’re not the only one who’s experiencing the sensation from what you are seeing on the screen.”

Parents need to understand when their kids watch the video, the experience will be intense. They need to prepare, anticipate and listen. Knowing full well they have to “be a place where their kids can share their fears and acknowledge that what they saw was terrifying.”

“The parents are the primary source of the child feeling safe, feeling OK, or feeling like things are going to be OK,” said Tucker. “So, we can’t shield them from evil in the world, but we can prepare them and especially we can listen to them.

“We can’t necessarily force them to talk, depending on their age. But we can observe them. We can give them quality time. We can know what their baseline is and compare it to after they have seen something,” said Tucker.

Mental health experts say one of the best ways to deal with this type of trauma is to lean on people you can trust and who can relate to how you are feeling. Even take time away from the news cycle and social media.

About the Author:

This Emmy Award-winning television, radio and newspaper journalist has anchored The Morning Show for 18 years.