#WorldMentalHealthDay: The Impact of Social Media on Mental Health

Social media is everywhere and it’s hard to avoid it. We use it daily to check the news, rant about bad products for almost instant customer service and just share pictures of cute animals (yes, we’re guilty of this as well) but have you ever considered how this might be affecting your mental health? 

Talking about mental health is no longer a taboo subject but not many people ever consider how certain aspects of social media might be having a negative effect on our mental health. We’ve looked into the ways it can affect us mentally and how to use social media to improve those days where getting out of bed can seem like a chore. 

Endless amounts of selfies

With the introduction of Instagram in 2010, using your phone for photography has never been more popular. The original concept of Instagram was to communicate solely on pictures. Instagram shot up from 100,000 users within the first week to 1 million in 2 months. The modern use of Instagram is to share our selfies with the online world. However, have you ever considered how many photos a person takes to get the photo they feel confident enough to share? 

Instagram and Facebook have taken the step to ban unhealthy hashtags such as #thinspiration and ban images of men/women girls/boys who look unhealthily thin in an act to improve our body image and mental health. However, accounts have managed a way around these and they still exist today. Users who regularly post selfies strive for perfection and, if an image doesn’t get a lot of likes, this may encourage the user to believe that it’s because of the way they look. This can leave lasting damage to mental health and self-esteem. 

Fake News or Lack of It

To quote Donald Trump “FAKE NEWS” is everywhere. You don’t know where to look and what sources might be trustworthy. More news sites are using social media platforms to share breaking news as it’s quicker and launches an instant conversation than it would in comparison to just sharing it on a website. It also can spark panic quicker, for example, the lack of information which the public has been told about Coronavirus or shootings in America. People are quick to jump to conclusions because we are being told news without the real information. Just look at the number of death hoaxes we had before and after social media started. Do you want a lot of tabloid stories? Just look at newspapers on Twitter. 

Having instant news within your hand can have a lasting impact on your mental health as it may cause you unwanted anxiety when you see something that might spark a panic. This can also make you more anxious about leaving your house or going on holiday. Just look at the mass panic about diseases and terrorist attacks. 

It’s hard to know what is the truth and what isn’t in the modern world of instant news. 

Improving Your Mental Health

So with all this negativity in the world, how do we combat it when social media is getting us down in the dumps or too anxious to step into the outside world. 

Social Media Detox

Put that phone down and leave it alone. Ok, this is easier said than done. Many of us suffer unknowingly from “nomophobia” which is a fear of being without a phone. Have you tried putting your phone down for a few hours and not look at it? It’s hard, we’ll even admit it but by doing this you could do wonders for your mental health. 

Maybe book a weekend away with a friend/family and make a rule when you leave your accommodation, the phone stays behind. You don’t need it for a camera because you can be in the moment instead of behind the moment. (If you really need a camera, go old school and get a disposable camera)

If you’re finding social media too negative, you could consider deleting your social media apps for a short period of time and give yourself a detox from your accounts and the negativity. When you rejoin, have a think about how much you really missed it and whether you want to continue being a user of the site? You might surprise yourself. 

If you really need to keep your social media accounts. It might be time for a declutter. 

Walk it off

It’s been said before and we’ll say it one last time, go outside and take a deep breath. In today’s modern society we spend most of our time stuck inside staring at a computer screen or TV screen binging the latest series that Netflix has to offer. Now we’re not saying it’s a bad way to live but consider heading out for a lunchtime walk around the area or spending time with friends at the weekend hiking up a mountain (weather permitting). Fresh air does wonders for our mental health, so head outside and breathe it in, literally. 

Find some positivity

Now social media isn’t all negative. There are some wonderful joys out there and something catered for everyone’s passion. One of our favourite accounts is We Rate Dogs. It’s an account which is just full of cute dogs doing what dogs do. What’s not to love (unless you don’t like dogs).

 

Also consider following brands who are fun and inventive such @InnocentDrinks, @AviationGin, Tasty and even @twitter. These accounts are fun for all and don’t take themselves too seriously. Even though they are marketing products to and you don’t realise because you’ll find yourself enjoying the tweets for what they are. 

Remove those news sites we were on about and make your feed something you really enjoy. I mean who doesn’t love looking at cute animals and delicious food? 

 

It’s always important to remember that you’re not alone even when you feel like you are. If you are going through a hard time contact Mind (0300 123 3393) or the Samaritans (116 123).