Why Reading Just The Headline is MisleadingPin

Why Reading Just The Headline is Misleading

I know I’ve talked about this a few times when it comes to mental health science, and the importance of looking at more than a headline. This week, I saw a perfect example of how dangerous this could actually be.

Recently, there have been a number of articles written about a new study that showed that, in fact, even kids who grow up in healthy, trauma-free, environments, still have mental health struggles some times.

I wrote a bit about it earlier this week in fact.

I was not surprised by this. Yes, we know that childhood trauma may increase the odds, but it doesn’t really address every situation. Mental health issues and causes are really quite varied.

But, one article in particular caused my to shake my head. Not because the article wasn’t accurate. In fact, here’s a direct quote:

 “This research shows that mental health conditions are not solely determined by early life events and that a child who is raised in a happy home, could still grow up to have a mental health disorder. There are certainly some missing factors in understanding how our childhood environment and early life experiences might translate into mental health outcomes in adulthood.”

The content of the article is pretty accurate, but if you saw the article shared on Twitter, for example, with just the headline, what would your take-away be? Oh, the headline? This is what it said:

“If this happened to you in childhood, you may have mental health problems”

That headline seems to imply the exact opposite of the content of the article. The study they are reporting on, actually says the opposite of that. It implies that we really don’t know or understand all of the causes of mental health issues. For some, it may be tied to childhood trauma, for another person it may be tied to something else, or someone with a lot of childhood trauma didn’t grow up with mental health issues.

Since we know many, many people only read the headline and then either move on, or share based on the headline alone. I can’t help but wonder how many people are sharing something, assuming that it says that childhood trauma causes mental health issues, when the article actually says it’s more complicated than that.

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