Could social media be promoting mental health?

social media and mental health

Mental health advice and tips have been booming on social media. Whether you visit Instagram, Facebook, or Tiktok, you will easily find therapists, psychologists and mental health professionals, wise individuals, and those with lived experience. recounting positive stories of mental health. You will also find tons of advice and quotes on mental health and emotional wellbeing.

Tiktok

I underestimated Tiktok thinking it was full of nonsense and nothing serious or life-affirming. During the Covid pandemic and lockdown, I decided to take a look and I loved it! It’s a wonderful way to feel connected to others. You laugh, learn, connect and engage in mindfulness, leaving less time for your brain to worry needlessly. People flock to spaces where they feel good and there is plenty on Tiktok to get you laughing and feeling inspired.

The pandemic has created mental health issues for untold numbers of people. Research from organisations such as the Royal College of Psychiatrists suggests that young people under the age of 24 have felt the ‘brunt’ of the negative effects of the pandemic on mental health, with waiting lists for mental health services growing to unmanageable levels for the NHS.

Tiktok has the ability to make you feel less lonely. The visual effects make you feel like friends are talking to you – sharing their advice and wisdom. Incredibly, the hashtag #mentalhealth on TikTok itself has 15.3 billion views, while the hashtag #therapistsoftiktok has 318 million views.

Anything that promotes mental health by showing our true selves and not the polished fake versions that we all see in marketing,ads and media gets a thumbs up from me.

I came across a woman with no teeth, quite happy to show off her natural state. Another woman who had loads of excess skin after a gastric bypass is seen jumping up and down in all her excess-skin-glory. It truly is a fantastic site where people are free to be themselves and the real stuff is shown.

People talk openly about their own struggles and you instantly feel less alone. It’s great to feel connected and this alone, can improve mental health. TikTok recently announced a package of guides on wellbeing and support for individuals struggling with eating disorders, as well as a set of features or ‘search interventions’ that can actively direct users to immediate support when searching terms such as ‘suicide’.

It goes without saying that not everyone on Tiktok and other social media channels will always be correct if they are giving out advice, but the benefits are immense if you focus on the lived experiences of others and find inspiration online.

Instagram and mental health

Instagram is also playing its part in reducing mental health stigma. You can find many wellness warriors and qualified experts offering tips and advice on emotional wellbeing. I am on there too – check it out: https://www.instagram.com/mandyjanek71/

In many ways, I prefer Tiktok because I have found more authentic people on there who are willing to present themselves as they are. Instagram promotes perfection more than Tiktok does in many ways. Irrespectively, many both social media platforms are spreading the word and helping to normalise mental health issues.

It’s only when we are self-aware and acknowledge that our mental health issues are affected our daily lives that we can begin to reach our true potential.

Many individuals avoid life due to anxiety but don’t acknowledge that their fears and insecurities are holding them back. Others engage in excessive behaviours to escape the stress of their lives. Behaviours such as excessive exercise, excessively living on social media (balance is healthy), overeating or not eating too much, excessive perfectionism, overthinking, overplanning – the list goes on.

When the above behaviours (this is not an exhaustive list) begin to interfere negatively with daily life, it’s time to take notice and focus on self-care and improvement. I have come across clients in my work that have lost jobs, relationships, and their sanity through denial or unhelpful coping mechanisms.

This is when online therapy or seeing a therapist face-to-face can get you back on track.

Understand your thoughts and feelings – your “mental diet”

The external world (people, places etc) is just as important as your inner world (your thoughts and feelings, perceptions of the world around you). In fact, your inner world shapes your focus and experience of the outer world so it’s vital to understand what’s going on for you inside your mind. If you are excessively negative or pessimistic, this will 100% affect your experiences in life and colour your life negatively. We get what we expect.

 

 

 

Photo by Alexander Shatov on Unsplash

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