According to a BBC study, approximately 40% of people around the world use social media. Users spend an average time of two hours daily to like, tweet, share and update information on social media platforms.
With social media becoming a key and sometimes even indispensable part of our lives, it is important to consider the role it plays in Mental Health.
Here are some possible risks and rewards of the platform. Feel free to add your own or write in and tell us!
Reward #1 – A Place to Vent
As the old saying goes ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’. Many people find it hard to be open about their mental health in person and the online platform provides an alternative, especially for those who may struggle with social anxiety. Whether or not you struggle with this in particular, being able to share your thoughts so easily can alleviate feelings of isolation.
Reward #2 – A Sense of Community and Support
On the topic of isolation, being able to easily connect with other people facing similar issues can make people feel less alone and part of a supportive community. Hashtags such as #timetotalk and #hereforyou have enabled so many to share their story, join the fight against mental health stigma and receive constructive online support from others who understand.
Reward #3 – Early Diagnosis of Depression
Research is on to develop early depression diagnosis tools based on an analysis of users’ social media behaviour. Factors such as language, emotion and engagement, are considered to profile patients with depression, faster.
In fact, Microsoft researchers have developed such a tool with a high success rate. You can follow these developments on BBC Future under #Likeminded.
Risk #1 – Increased Stress Levels
Being constantly contactable can become stressful and become a burden or start to feel like an obligation. It is important to remember to put you and your mental health first and to turn off your phone if you need to.
Risk #2 – Contagious Negative Influences
Other people posting about their struggles with mental health may be triggering for some people. You can easily filter what information comes up on your news feed and exclude topics that you think you may find upsetting.
Risk #3 – Reduced Self-Esteem
Seeing edited, filtered and optimised snap shots of people’s lives can make you start comparing yourself to others. Remember people present what they want to online and hide what they want to as well! #youareenough
In conclusion, there is no strong evidence to say that social media is either bad or good for all. It has different effects on different people depending on their existing behaviour and personality.
Advent Advocacy have provided a nationwide advocacy service since 2007.
Advent Advocacy offers a range of advocacy services including Independent Mental Health Advocacy (IMHA), Independent Mental Capacity Advocacy (IMCA), Care Act Advocacy, Childrens and Young Persons Advocacy, Generic and Non-Instructed Advocacy services nationwide.
Our independent mental health advocacy services are available throughout the UK.
Call us at 01325 776 554 for more information.