As I’ve discussed on this blog before, there are many reasons why social media can be bad for us. The effects it can have on our mental health are one of the most significant. As Forbes describes, social media can be addictive, lead to less happiness and life satisfaction, cause feelings of isolation and jealousy, and ironically, actually make us less social.
These effects are particularly worrying among young adults. According to Pew Research Center’s 2018 study, 95% of the teens surveyed had access to a smartphone, and 45% stated that they were online “almost constantly.” This can lead to FOMO, or “fear of missing out,” which causes feelings of anxiety, loneliness, and inadequacy. Some teens become so attached to social media that they develop what is now known as social media anxiety disorder, where they experience severe anxiety when they are unable to check their social media accounts. Although not yet classified as a clinical disorder, it can still be debilitating and affect a person’s quality of life. The symptoms are similar to many other mental health disorders such as severe stress and anxiety, loss of interest in other activities, distraction at work or school, and withdrawal from friends and family.
So how can we fix this? The problem itself may reveal a solution. With so many people already using social media, why not use social media to our advantage? Some companies are already doing this. BetterHelp, a company that provides professional online therapy sessions, has starting using influencers to promote their services. The influencer, in addition to promoting BetterHelp, will typically include a discussion surrounding mental health in their content. This makes mental health feel less stigmatized and more relatable, as it is coming from someone the viewer or follower trusts.
Whether you agree with influencer sponsorships or not, to me, the most important thing is that these partnerships start a mental health conversation. These conversations show that going through ups and downs in your mental health journey are normal parts of the human experience. This can go a long way in helping people struggling with their mental health feel less alone.
We are also seeing more therapists and mental health professionals offering free advice on social media platforms like Youtube, TikTok, and Instagram. TikTok in particular has seen therapy content soar in popularity, especially among young people. This is fantastic for several reasons. It removes some of the fear surrounding therapy as followers can see what it’s really like, and they can find a mental health professional they relate to quickly and easily. It also makes mental health support accessible regardless of your finances or where you live, and it creates inclusive communities of individuals who can support each other on their mental health journeys. And whether it is a virtual connection or an in-person one, knowing that you have support can make a world of difference, no matter your age or what stage you are at in your life.
How do you feel about the effects of social media on mental health? Do you follow mental health-related content on social media? How do you think we can tackle the issues surrounding mental health in our social media-driven society?
I’d love to hear from you in the comments!
Facebook Post: Social media can be bad for our mental health. But can it also be the solution to some of the widespread mental health problems we see in our society today? Check out this article and join the discussion! https://tinyurl.com/2p966hvm
Twitter Post: Social media is a problem for our mental health. But can it also be the solution? Join the discussion here. https://tinyurl.com/2p966hvm
#SocialMedia #MentalHealth #FOMO #FacebookDepression #Therapy
Note: If you are an Ontario resident interested in receiving free mental health support, MindBeacon is now offering free personalized support programs thanks to funding from the Government of Ontario.
Wow what shocking numbers, it is incredibly to think that 95% of teens have access to smartphones and even more disturbing is that 45% are online constantly. I can only imagine the permanent damage that “social media anxiety will have on our young people.
I agree why not use social media to our advantage to promote better mental health? It is a obvious. I definitely have been seeing more discussions on platforms such as TikTok, Instagram and Youtube which takes away the stigma around mental health and this is a step in the right direction.
Yes, it’s scary to think how many teens have access to social media – it’s the new normal for sure! In some ways I’m glad social media wasn’t that widespread when I was a teenager. I’m glad you also feel that seeing more mental health discussions on social media platforms is a good step!
I like that you are trying to solve the problem by using social media. It is a very smart solution as people are already using it. People can use it to help themselves too. I hope we can only take the good part of social media which is connecting us together. I really enjoyed reading your blog.
Thank you, I’m glad you enjoyed the blog post! I agree that focusing on the good parts of social media is so important!
Thank you for your post. I understand all the facts you are saying about mental health for I am a young adult and have been through what the social media is doing to my era.
I have close friends that have some kind of mental health. Whether it is anxiety, depression or suicidal thoughts. I don’t really follow any mental health media, but I probably should, just to get a more broader awareness of how to control it, because I can’t see it ever going away. In fact, I think it has grown larger than we all know.
I’m glad you found the post interesting! Yes, I think it’s important to educate ourselves about mental health, both for ourselves and for the people in our lives who might be struggling!
Great read. I particularly like the linked articles and I gained valuable insight, thank you for the great enlightenment. Now, I know a few more acronyms, and that FOBO – Fear of being off line is an actual recognized anxiety, one that I personally witnessed on a daily bases in my work life. I also found it very interesting the breakdown of social media choices based on income. Very interesting Blog
What a great read! I wasn’t particularly shocked to see that 95% of teens had access to smartphones simply because everywhere I look I see teens with phones in their hands. I was surprised to see that almost half of them are online constantly. Being a mother of a teen, I believe teens should be doing more than just playing on their phones, they should be out with friends, being active and staying healthy. In my opinion, FOMO is taking away our youths opportunity of experiencing things.
I recently wrote a blog on helping our youth with the impacts of social media (https://wp.me/p3QRy0-uJR). I believed that some of the answers on how to protect our teens from social media could be found in researching millennials and the experiences they have been through since they took the brunt of social media coming out up until now. What I didn’t think of was how we might be able to use social media to our advantage and I appreciate your write up on this, it has definitely left me thinking a little further in depth.
While I do agree it is great that therapists and influencers are shedding light and talking about mental health, I also believe that this is a starting point. With the way social media evolves and changes, I think they are on to something and it is likely only a matter of time before this trend will evolve and grow to suit the needs of an even larger demographic of teens.
This year at work we started to implement mental health Mondays. Every Monday we would get the staff together and bring up blog articles, social media post and accounts, news articles or personal stories about mental health. We wanted to make the workplace feel like a safe space and discussing mental health the norm. In conjunction with that we also had a mental health board where we could post the articles for people to read at a later date as well as different social media accounts that staff members follow to help with their mental health. That is differently one of the benefits of social media when it comes to mental health, the ability to free information on the topic more freely and finding/following a community that creates a safe space to talk about it.
This is a great article that demonstrate how social media can be a helpful media to support those with Mental Health issues. Covid-19 and being in confinement has not help in the opportunity to have access to mental health professional. The website links are great resources for the people who does not have a budget to access mental health professionals. The visual and the statistic used is very useful to understand better the article. I will share the links with my friends and family. In conclusion, this blog has brought solutions and information for people who would need professional help and support on social media.