Study Shows Streaming Services Help Improve Mental Health


How have you been dealing with the added stresses the pandemic, distance learning, and working remotely? Fintech company, Self Financial, asked over 1,000 Americans how their finances and mental wellbeing were connected in a series of questions to uncover the true cost of mental health. It turns out that people are spending an average of $287 a month on their mental health from direct and indirect sources. 

1,066 Americans from across all states, with a range of financial backgrounds, were polled using Amazon’s survey platform from Jun. 29 to Jul. 4 on a range of questions about their financial and mental wellbeing. 

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The most popular indirect methods people are spending their money on for the benefit of their mental health are TV and streaming services (51.5%), socializing (48%), music streaming (44%), and food and drink (43%). In terms of direct methods, 72% of our respondents utilize counseling, 24% use mental health apps and 19% use sports and exercise as a means of looking after their mental wellbeing. 

When asked about their experience during the global pandemic specifically, almost 1 in 5 (18%) said that TV streaming like Netflix and Disney+ was one of the three most important things for their mental health to combat the effects of COVID-19. This was found to be more important than counseling, mental health apps and podcasts, alcohol, journals, and music. 

Despite streaming’s positive effects on viewers, 81.3% of people said that their mental health will ‘definitely’ improve after the pandemic is over.

Kristie Norwood, PhD, a Licensed Clinical Psychologist said, “Television shows can serve as a mechanism for people to mentally avoid dealing with everyday life challenges, remain connected to popular culture, experience positive emotions, and validate aspects of their lives. Through portrayed character experiences, viewers are able to feel a sense of internal connection, validation and normalization when their personal life situations are displayed; this pleasant connection and gratification often triggers dopamine in the brain which causes the behavioral response of continuous streaming, also known as “binge-watching.” 

—Jennifer Swartvagher

Featured photo: Thought Catalog on Unsplash


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