Mental health issues for young adults on the rise, and there has been an increase in scientific studies on the mental health implications of social media. While we cannot ignore the negatives, there are still some positive aspects of social media from a mental health perspective. Social media has become an outlet and coping mechanism for those who are struggling with mental health issues. It has made facilitating discussions and creating safe spaces easier. Here are some of the reasons I believe social media can be beneficial for mental health.
Finding the Signs
Social media has given people the opportunity to talk about their issues more freely. This helps to publicize some of the lesser known or discussed symptoms of various mental health issues. Those who are not struggling can therefore better understand the challenges faced by those with mental illness. It can also help people who struggle themselves better understand what they are experiencing. Social media has also helped spread posts on the signs and symptoms of mental health problems, which could help people recognize a friend of family member who is struggling.
Creating a Safe Space
Social media platforms like Tumblr and PostSecret allow people to anonymously share what they are feeling. People can anonymously share their experiences and reply to others to provide support, inspiration, or guidance. This creates a makeshift online support group that helps those who are suffering from social isolation and loneliness. Social media has made it easier for people connect with others they relate to and reassure that they are not alone.
Making Discussions More Open
Celebrities such as Cara Delevigne, Kristen Bell, and Kid Cudi have used social media platforms to openly discuss their struggles with mental health. Trending topics such as #BellLetsTalk on Twitter encourage discussions about mental health and tear down the stigma surrounding it. Vloggers on YouTube have also posted their personal mental health stories. These have helped others share their own experiences, encouraging discussions on what to do and where to find support. Mental health discussions have also helped to debunk myths regarding the issue and provide accurate information.
Easier Access to Resources
Social media also provides access to resources. With the help of direct messaging and replying, users can provide websites and resources to others who wish to seek help. Celebrities and other influential figures also tend to provide links to resources on the mental health issue they struggle with. Websites such as TranQool use social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to spread awareness of their resources through sharing or retweeting. Providing and sharing information about mental health has become easier with the help of social media. Social media platforms have also aimed to help those who suffer from mental health issues. Recently these platforms have created features to improve mental health. Instagram, for example, created a feature where users can flag a post if they think someone needs help. Another website, Tumblr, directs users who search trigger words to organizations that provide help.