Shaun Rhatigan is an aspiring journalist with a keen interest in mental health. He also happens to be one of the most thoughtful people I have the pleasure of calling one of my dear friends! Here, he goes in depth concerning the positives and negatives of social media.
We have all undoubtedly experienced the negative effects that social media can have on our self-esteem and mental health. Researching for this blog I spoke to plenty of people who admitted spending hours perfecting their selfies, gaining self-validation based solely on how many likes they received. I’ve been guilty of this too, deleting photos and posts that got little or no attention from friends, leaving me feeling uninteresting and questioning my own self-worth.
With that being said, I don’t want to use this post to focus on only the doom and gloom of social media. Instead I want to show how it can be used to empower those dealing with mental health difficulties and highlight the positive impact it can have on your life. After all, staying positive is key!
One way social media helps me is following inspirational or funny quotes. Starting your day reading a hilarious tweet or Instagram post won’t just put a grin on your face, it will put you in a positive mood to get the most out of your day. Similarly, when faced with daunting tasks reading an inspirational quote can give you the motivation or boost to keep going. A tip for this is to screen-shot posts that have the greatest impact on you, so they are at your disposal whenever you need them. One of my personal favourites- “Failure is not falling down, but refusing to get back up.”
For those of us who struggle with face to face social interactions, social media gives you a great opportunity to connect with others without the worry of revealing your identity. It’s so important to express yourself but not everyone feels as comfortable doing so as others. Social media opens the doors to groups and forums where you can discuss what’s on your mind or just find out if others are feeling the same way as you without the attached stigma (Check out the MentalHealthForum.com). Away from discussing mental health, joining groups where people share your interests (be it Star Wars, Art or Fashion) is a great way to mingle with others and bond over common ground whilst building your confidence and eliminating thoughts of isolation and loneliness.
Something else we might all be guilty of is preoccupy ourselves by aimlessly scrolling through our news feed. Although looking at how sloshed you and your friends got last week is fun, it’s important not to forget how much valuable information and support is at your fingertips. Organisations such as ‘YoungMinds’ and ‘PAPYRUS’ are doing great work on their social media pages by sharing campaigns, stories and advice. ‘SANE’ is another fantastic organisation that offers support through anonymous forums, their YouTube channel and text care. I can also highly recommend checking out ‘HeadMeds’ which offers easily accessible information on medication and mental health issues. These posts can not only help you get whatever support you need, they are also helping smash the stigma that surrounds mental health as people become increasingly knowledgeable on the subject.
These are just a few ways you can use social media to share with others and experiment with different forms of self-express. I’m not saying the problems aren’t there, but I do believe social media is not the big bad that we are led to believe. As with anything in life, approach social media with a positive attitude and you will reap the positive outcomes!!