Objectives: To provide a clinical update on the mechanisms of, and potential population mental health risks of, excessive media exposure and misinformation regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. To outline guidance for government, health services, psychiatrists and health professionals in managing mental health effects of COVID-19 media exposure. Conclusions: Social and traditional media businesses attract interest by reporting threats and negativity, and heavy media exposure during disasters is associated with increased depressive and post-traumatic symptoms. There are three main recommendations for mitigation of the adverse population mental health effects of excessive media exposure and misinformation. Clear, authoritative communication from governments, health authorities and health professionals is essential, combined with correction of misinformation and addressing mistrust. Specific warnings by governments, health authorities and clinicians of the potential adverse mental health consequences of excessive COVID-19 media consumption are needed. Limitation of exposure to media and disinformation regarding COVID-19 is crucial – the less, the better. Healthcare professionals can advise patients to check information once daily, and be guided by reliable public health authorities, as part of interventions for managing the mental health impact of COVID-19.
- media exposure
- population mental health