COMMENTARY: Mental Well-Being is Not So Well

Oct 24, 2022 at 05:37 pm by WGNS News

COMMENTARY - In today’s society, it appears as if mental health issues have grown to near overwhelming numbers. With today’s commentary, here’s Dr. Larry Burriss, Professor of Journalism at MTSU…


VERBATIM - “We hear a lot of talk lately about the mental health of our children. Apparently mental health issues are increasing dramatically, and we often hear Covid challenges are the culprits.

But is it Covid, or all of the alarmist talk about Covid, and other supposed world difficulties, causing the problems?

Media sociologist George Gerbner one time said, “Fearful people are more dependent, more easily manipulated and more susceptible to deceptively simple, strong, tough measures and and hard-line postures. They may even welcome repression if it promises to relieve their insecurities.”

In other words, if this or that group can introduce fear into the population, they are more likely to be able to control those very same people.

And how is this fear introduced? Well, Gerbner has an answer: Whoever, “tells the stories governs human behavior. It used to be the parent, the school, the church, the community. Now it's a handful of global conglomerates that have nothing to tell, but a great deal to sell.”

His research also shows people who watch more negative news and watch more negative entertainment have a completely different, and a more negative, view of the world than the world actually is.

Now, this is not to say we should put on blinders and ignore our problems.

But it is saying perhaps the world isn’t in as bad a shape as some people would have us believe.

For example, have you seen any infomercials about polar bears lately? Just a couple of years ago we were told polar bears were on the edge of extinction.

It turns out, however, zoologists are reporting polar bear populations have more than doubled over the last few years, but somehow that didn’t make the evening news or the headlines.

Why? Because good news isn’t on the agenda of people who want to take control.

We’ve also heard the expression, Too good to be true.

Well, maybe if it’s bad news it isn’t true. - I’m Larry Burriss.”


About Dr. Burriss - Larry Burriss, professor of journalism, teaches introductory and media law courses. At the graduate level he teaches quantitative research methods and media law. He holds degrees from The Ohio State University (B.A. in broadcast journalism, M.A. in journalism), the University of Oklahoma (M.A. in human relations), Ohio University (Ph.D. in journalism) and Concord Law School (J.D.). He has worked in print and broadcast news and public relations, and has published extensively in both academic and popular publications. He has won first place in the Tennessee Associated Press Radio Contest nine times. Dr. Burriss' publications and presentations include studies of presidential press conferences, NASA photography, radio news, legal issues related to adolescent use of social networking sites, legal research, and Middle Earth. 

Dr. Burriss has served as director of the School of Journalism, dean of the College of Mass Communication and president of the MTSU Faculty Senate. He was appointed by Gov. Phil Bredesen to serve on the Tennessee Board of Regents. He was a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force and served on active duty in Mali, Somalia, Bosnia, Central America, Europe and the Pentagon.




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