Is Social Media Good For Your (Mental) Health
It’s mental health week this week, a subject that is close to my heart for many reasons. I have many family members and close friends who suffer from mental health issues. In fact, the more people I talk to it seems to me that the odd ones out are anybody who DOESN’T have mental health issues or have never had at any point in their life.
Mental health – like physical health – is not something anyone should take for granted.
I am sure you know of people who have always been in good health and then drop dead of a heart attack with no notice (my father in law) or who have never smoked cigarettes, drank or been overweight who get diagnose with terminal cancer (my Dad).
The same thing applies to mental health. One of my dearest friends who was always the super confident, go get ‘em girl – now has problems leaving the house apart from to go to work. And several of my family have had bouts of depression resulting in treatment and hospitalisation.
But what worries me most is the epidemic of young people suffering anxiety, stress, and depression and the amount of young people ending their lives before they have even really begun.
The problem is you can never switch off nowadays can you, so you can never get away from the bullies and shamers and haters. And then again, on social media there is this one face given to the world. The selfie generation see everyone else’s lives as so glamourous and perfect. Of course, it’s not true.
No-one’s lives are perfect and this pressure to BE perfect is having a very negative affect on young people. For those of us who are a bit older and (maybe) wiser – it is possible to separate fact from fiction and reality from the ‘socialworld’ – where only the parts of life that others want you to see, are allowed.
Social media has a lot going for it, and I am generally in favour. However, there needs to be a lot more education in schools and at home about how to deal with the ever ‘on’ word we live in.
When I was at school, if there was someone there giving you grief – at least you could get away from it at night, and at the weekend or in the holidays. Todays kids can never get away from it. It’s incessant. And they are lost without their mobiles.
They also don’t realise that the more they look at and interact with stuff that is no good for them – the more of it they will see.
So, if they look at stuff about depression they are likely to see ever more stuff from depressed people. Now – that can be good if it leads them to support groups, however much of the time it does not and it must appear to them that everyone around them is also depressed…oh – apart from all the ‘perfect people’ in their feeds.
That’s enough to make anyone depressed.
So, in answer to the question is social media good for your mental health – well yes – but only if you are careful. I only click on and respond to things that are positive and inspiring, or funny or educational. And therefore – that is pretty much all I see in my feed.
I don’t click on or interact with, anything political, anything about the B word (Brexit), anything that is about terrorism, or religion. I don’t follow any groups or pages which have any of those themes or anything else that is ‘dark’. And I mute or block anyone that I occasionally come across.
If you are seeing stuff you don’t want to see in your feed, then stop reading it or interacting with it. And yes – I do mean stop reading it. Not only is negative stuff bad for your brain, Facebooks algorithm now picks up how long you hover over certain posts. No, I am not kidding you. If you are reading it – they know about it.
And please – ask people how they are feeling and don’t let them fob you off with ‘I’m fine’ – if you know they are not. Ask me how I know about that one.
If you are feeling anxious, stressed or depressed – please talk to someone. You are not alone.