26 Jun 5 Ways Social Media Helps Fight Mental Health Stigma
The effect of social media on teen mental health depends on how it’s used. Living with mental illness can be an isolating experience, even though 1 in 5 people are affected by it at some point in their lives. It’s hard to speak up about your experiences when you are worried about them being perceived negatively. We often talk about how social media has affected teen’s social relationships and self-esteem, but don’t give enough credit to how it helps fight the stigma of mental health. We worry that so much access to information online prevents people from looking to their own experiences for guidance, however, for people who struggle with mental illness, feeling present enough to communicate and socialize can be really difficult. As mental health issues are becoming more visible in the media, more teens turn to social media to connect with others who have had similar experiences and to reach out for help.
Unlearning Mental Health Stigma
Teens living with mental illness feel hopeless about their experiences and worry that it will get in the way of them achieving their goals. The online world is all about appearances and teens feel pressure to post about their highlights of their lives. There doesn’t feel like there is room to be vulnerable and admit how their lives have been dominated by depression, anxiety, and self-doubt. Additionally, there’s a fear of being judged as not good enough or as a failure. We are conditioned to believe that having negative experiences means there’s something wrong with us and that we are supposed to be in control of manifesting positivity in our lives.
For centuries, mental illness has been stereotyped and overgeneralized in public opinion, which creates a fear of admitting that they relate. In recent years, people have been turning to social media to change the conversations we have about mental health. They are discussing the stigma attached to mental health and educating people who are uninformed. Additionally, they are explaining that most things we’ve been told about mental illness are wrong. People are beginning to recognize the importance of “artificial intelligence” in shaping emotional intelligence and offering support.
How Social Media Can Improve Mental Health
Provides a nonjudgmental platform to talk about your day, whatever kind of day you had.
- Social media comes with freedom of expression. When you want to share about your accomplishments, go ahead. If you want to share about your fears, go ahead. If you need to reach out for help, people will respond. There are (almost) no rules. Honesty is welcomed.
Gives a voice to the silenced.
- Mental illness is not something we are used to talking about, let alone openly. As people feel more comfortable naming their experiences, it allows room for conversations to shift from learning how to stop hiding parts of yourself to advocating for social change. While people have always agreed that wellbeing and “sanity” are important, we often exclude people who struggle with their mental health from these conversations.
Allows opportunities to connect with others who have similar experiences.
- Unlike some platforms like Facebook and Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter connect teens to people they may not know in person. They are allowed to choose who to follow based on liking what they post. Being vulnerable on social media creates a sense of intimacy. Teens learn that they are allowed to be seen AND they deserve to be heard. Likes and comments can be a form of emotional support.
Features role models that represent a variety of experiences.
- Celebrities often choose their social media platforms to talk about issues that are important to them, whether it is promoting their own work, being vulnerable about their personal lives, or supporting nonprofits dedicated to issues they are passionate about. Teens often glamorize the lives and accomplishments of celebrities that they look up to. Although they can present unrealistic expectations for what their lives are supposed to look like. Through social media, celebrities have the power to open up more about what goes on behind the scenes and to remind their audience that they are human too. This has also allowed more people to step into the spotlight that break social norms without censorship.
Reminds teens that they are not alone.
- Social media offers connection and socialization from the comfort of a personal device. On days you are too anxious to leave the house, or too exhausted to get out of bed, social media helps teens feel less isolated. Scrolling through a feed catered to their interests, their experiences, or things they may need to hear helps them feel a sense of belonging. This is despite all the reasons they may doubt their self-worth.
ViewPoint Center Can Help
ViewPoint Center is a short-term residential Crisis and Assessment Center for adolescents ages 12 to 17. We help stabilize and assess teenagers struggling with mental health issues. The program helps teens struggling with issues like depression, anxiety, and process addictions. Before ViewPoint, families are often frustrated and lost. Varying doctors and therapists with a range of advice, diagnoses, and plans leaves parents and children unsure of where to turn. One of the biggest barriers to reaching out for help is stigma around mental health. This prevents people from accepting diagnoses and making plans to move forward. At ViewPoint, we centralize all of the different diagnoses, and create a comprehensive holistic report to help your teen and your family to get back on track and transition to the next stage of their recovery.
Call 855-290-9682 for more information about ViewPoint Center.