Social media has become a significant part of our everyday lives. It allows us to stay in touch with friends and family, keep up with current events, express ourselves, and more. But despite all its benefits, social media can also have a negative impact on our mental health.

What kind of influence does social media have?

Whether you’re new to social media or have been using it for a while, you’ve probably heard a lot about its potential negative impact on mental health.

For example, social media provides numerous ways to compare yourself to others. People tend to present flawless versions of their lives on social media. Virtually, they can showcase their greatest accomplishments and carefully curated photos. When others believe their lives aren’t as perfect as those of their “friends,” it can lead to feelings of loneliness, inadequacy, depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem.

Social media can also contribute to the development of addictive behaviors. Spending too much time scrolling through social media feeds can interfere with daily activities and responsibilities, leading to sleep disruption, decreased productivity, and increased stress levels. Additionally, the constant need for validation and attention from likes, comments, and followers can lead to an unhealthy obsession with one’s online presence.

Despite these undesirable effects, there are ways to reduce the negative impacts of social media on our mental health. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Set boundaries. Limit the amount of time you spend on social media each day and avoid checking your accounts before bedtime to prevent disrupted sleep patterns.
  2. Be mindful of your content. Consider the impact your posts may have on others and avoid sharing content that could be hurtful or triggering.
  3. Take breaks. If you find yourself becoming overwhelmed or stressed, step away from social media for a while and engage in other activities.
  4. Connect with friends and family in real life. Spending time with loved ones can help counteract the negative effects of social media and improve your overall mental health.

The flip side – social media’s positive effects

Despite the common perception that social media only negatively affects our mental health, it can actually have positive effects when used appropriately. Let’s take a closer look at how social media can enhance our mental well-being.

#1. Connection and Support

One of the most significant benefits of social media is its ability to connect us with others. Social media provides opportunities to maintain relationships with friends and family, form connections with individuals who share our interests and passions and even join online groups and forums that offer encouragement and support. For those who are facing mental health challenges like anxiety, depression, or stress, this sense of connection and support can be of great benefit.

#2. Raising Awareness and Breaking Stigma

Social media continues to play a significant role in raising awareness about mental health and reducing stigma. Individuals and organizations are using social media to make discussions about mental health more common and acceptable by sharing personal experiences, information, and resources. As a result, more people are seeking help and support for their mental health needs, along with more open and accepting conversations about mental health.

Bell Canada’s annual campaign, Bell Let’s Talk, is one of the most well-known, and it aims to raise mental health awareness and reduce the stigma associated with mental illness.

#3. Access to Resources and Information

Social media offers convenient access to a wealth of information and resources related to mental health. From educational content such as articles and videos to online therapy and support groups, the internet is full of resources that can help enhance our mental well-being. With a few clicks, we can access information, support, and resources that can aid in improving our understanding and management of our mental health. Organizations like London’s MLHU have been able to get important health updates out to masses of people, as we saw during the pandemic.

#4. Creative Outlet

Finally, social media can provide a creative outlet for people who wish to express themselves. Through platforms such as writing, photography, and art, social media lets us share our interests and hobbies with the world. This can especially benefit those coping with mental health challenges since it offers a distraction from negative thoughts and a positive means of expression.

Over to you

While social media can be a powerful tool for connecting and self-expression, we must be aware of its potential impact on our mental health. We can minimize the negative effects of social media while reaping the benefits by setting boundaries, being mindful of our content, and seeking real-life connections.

Written by: Jennifer Hanford, MYOB Blogger