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Mental health association examines why mask-wearing is divisive issue

Published: Jun. 30, 2020 at 5:42 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - With mixed signals and misinformation readily available and spread easily through social media, not everyone is on board with wearing a mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Despite research that shows that doing so is better than not, the issue has become contentious. Why are people choosing not to wear a mask? Could it be a political statement, or is there a psychological reason?

Tuesday, Eyewitness News heard perspective from the Mental Health Association of South Central Kansas. Eric Litwiller with the mental health association said the decision on whether or not to wear a mask in public could be psychological on whether or not people believe COVID-19 is a serious concern. He also said the virus and anything associated with it -- like wearing a mask -- could be a source of anxiety.

“I think a lot of it is, regardless of what side of the political aisle people fall on, it tends to be, ‘If I wear the mask, then I acknowledge that (COVID-19 is) a problem,‘” Litwiller said. “People kind of have this academic fallacy, I guess I’ll call it that, that if they don’t wear a mask, they’re not worrying about it and they don’t have to worry about it. It’s kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

On social media, Sedgwick County Republican Chairman Dalton Glasscock shared his personal perspective on masks after testing positive for COVID-19. He said he debated sharing his personal health information, but wanted to thwart conspiracies around the virus.

He added, “Please take this seriously. Wear a mask,. Social distance as much as you can. Do your part.”

Ahead of issuing a statewide mandate to wear masks and since announcing the order, Kansas Governor Laura Kelly has echoed a similar message.

Copyright 2020 KWCH. All rights reserved.

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