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Acknowledge Emotions

Take Your Best Guess

During a public health emergency, people may feel fearful, miserable, or angry; acknowledging people’s fears will only make them feel more afraid.

The correct answer is False.

Don't ignore, criticize, or discount people's emotions, even if some emotions don't seem justified. If the emotion has some basis, let the public know that such emotions are normal and understandable. At the same time, provide information that can put their emotional reactions into context (for instance, by letting them know that the risk is low, or by updating them on what is being done to bring the emergency under control).

Use phrases that legitimize emotions such as:

  • “It's only natural for many people to feel...”
  • “I have talked to a lot of people who feel...”
  • “Even though I know all the statistical reasons why I shouldn't be too concerned, even I sometimes feel...”

Instead of trying to persuade the public not to be afraid, help people bear their fears. Acknowledge feelings of misery or grief and affirm that these are appropriate responses. Suggest actions the public can take to help others, which can help alleviate any feelings of misery.