“How can social media positively impact one’s mental health?” you may ask. There is so much comparison, bullying, negativity out there. You might have read articles telling you how bad social media is for mental health. Obviously, this is true in certain circumstances. For example; when we compare ourselves and our lifestyle to that of a public figure we can unintentionally decrease our own sense of self and identity.
We must remember that not everything we see on social platforms may be a true representation of real life, therefore it would be foolish to even try to compare our real life to that which may portray a deceived image. If you choose to engage in negative comments, arguments and the comparison game, your mental health will suffer. On the other hand, there is a much brighter side of social platforms which needs to be remembered.
Social media platforms
Recent research found that regular use of social media platforms can actually reduce experiences of distress by 63% (Hampton, 2019). This is because social media allows us to connect with like-minded people around the world and leads to an increase in our social networks. I have personally found this to be very true.
Thanks to social platforms, I now have friends in the US, India, Italy and Australia that I would have never met otherwise. How amazing is this? Thirty years ago having friends on the other side of the world would be almost perceived as fiction.
But in this day and age? We can have networks of friends in every country, we can work on social and charitable projects in countries we have never physically been to, we can travel online to other beautiful parts of the world. We have the entire planet in our pocket and we can connect with anyone we desire at any given time. Does this sound like the Matrix?
The sense of connection to the world has also been found to prevent depression in Cancer patients (Farpour, Habibi & Owji, 2017). As you can imagine terminally ill individuals experience higher levels of mental health issues than a healthy individual. However because of the genius tool of social media even those who may be socially isolated don’t actually need to move to make meaningful connections with others in their city, country, continent and more. Social media platforms have more potential power than we have ever imagined, and who knows maybe we can even reduce feelings of depression with the right use of it.
This is just some of the countless research that’s found how beneficial the use of social platforms can be to our mental health, if we utilise it in the right way. Maybe, visiting famous model’s profiles for the purposes of comparing our own bodies to theirs is not the greatest idea if we want to enhance our own self confidence and sense of well being. But if you are trying to enhance your sense of belonging to the community, create new networks and friendships and create change in the world social media is the greatest tool to achieve this.
Think about it, how are you going to utilise social platforms to increase your own well-being and the well-being of others? What positive action are you going to take today?
Hampton, K. N. (2019). Social Media and Change in Psychological Distress Over Time: The Role of Social Causation. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication.