Social media and mental health issues intersect more often than you might think. For example, there’s the old line: “Don’t believe everything you see on Facebook!” And it’s usually used in reference to how AMAZING and PERFECT everyone else’s digitally curated life appears to be.
You know, one of the best compliments I ever received was that I’m exactly the same online as I am offline! But many people aren’t. And no matter how much you know these perfectly presented realities aren’t accurate, it’s often hard to not look at your own life (or your own self) through overly critical eyes in comparison.
And that’s why, today, in honour of Bell’s Let’s Talk Day 2019, we wanted to write a bit about social media as it relates to mental health.
Social Media Has Changed the World
Of course, it’s important to remember that social media has brought positivity to many people. It’s opened the world up for people who find it difficult to leave the house. It’s allowed marginalized groups to find friendship, knowledge and acceptance. And it provides support through subject-focused support and/or business groups.
And yes, it’s dramatically changed the political landscape. Disenfranchised or politically subjugated people now have the opportunity for anonymous protest. Social media provides a window into their worlds, and even brought them to safety.
The Intersection Between Social Media and Mental Health Issues
With all its positivity, however, we would be remiss to not keep a close eye on what can sometimes be the very negative effects of non-stop social media consumption. Cyberbullying, for example, is a very real and very serious occurrence.
For teens, being bombarded by constant images of the beautiful, rich and famous – the Kardashian Effect, you could say – can have a huge impact on their self-esteem and sense of self-worth. Not to mention the surge of viral video trends that involve the very real danger of possible physical harm. Who can forget the Tide Pod Challenge, or the more recent “Bird Box Challenge?”
Adults Are Not Immune to Social Media and Mental Health Concerns
Adults are definitely not immune when it comes to social media and mental health issues. In fact, a recent York University study found women’s sense of self, how they compared to their peers in the looks department, is heavily influenced (usually negatively) by social media interactions.
Other studies found the overuse of social media can lead to increased feelings of depression and loneliness. FOMO, or “fear of missing out,” while a cute catchphrase, can have a huge impact on a person’s wellbeing. A Carleton and McGill study found FOMO – driven through social media usage – was associated with fatigue, stress, and trouble sleeping. All things that have a huge impact on a person’s overall mental health.
Bell Let’s Talk Day 2019
Look, it’s ok to take a break from social media now and again. Or, at the very least, be aware of its potential impact on how you feel from day to day.
It’s time to break the stigma that still exists around mental health issues, a stigma that has an impact on people of ALL generations. Social media gives people a platform to openly share their mental health related stories and/or ask for help when needed.
And that’s why Bell’s annual Let’s Talk Day is so important. Today, Bell is raising awareness, and raising money for mental health initiatives in Canada. They’re contributing 5¢ for every applicable text, call, tweet, social media video view and use of their Facebook frames or Snapchat filters.
So, today, get out there and enjoy social media! Share your story and share others’ stories as well. Use social media for GOOD! And I bet you’ll feel pretty darn good doing so.
Note from Eden: In the spirit of disclosure, although my husband works for Bell Media, the initiative for this blog post and its message are my own.