Social Media and Mental Health
How often do you find yourself waking up in the morning just so you can immediately scroll through Facebook or Instagram to figure out what you missed in the last 8 hours? Or, alternatively, how often do you find yourself surfing social media right before you sleep? Now think about how many times per day you navigate to your social media apps as a reflex when you’re bored or when you’re taking a break from school or work.
The use of social media has grown exponentially just within the past couple of decades. For example, Facebook only had about 1 million users in 2004 – when it started – and by December of last year, Facebook reached 2.3 billion users, which is close to ⅓ of the world’s population. Other popular social media channels include Twitter, Linkedin, Youtube, Instagram, Tumblr, Snapchat, and Reddit. Social media has become increasingly ingrained in our lives - more and more people are using social media to connect, communicate, shop, promote materials or events, stay up-to-date with news and current events, and more.
Positive and Negative Aspects of Mental Health
There are many positive aspects of social media. First of all, social media allows people to find support groups and communities, connect with old friends, and meet new friends. Secondly, social media can be empowering by finding communities that lift you up or by connecting with public role models. Thirdly, many jobs, internships, and volunteer opportunities are posted on social media, allowing a different type of access to opportunities.
While people can easily use social media to connect, social media can also lead to cyberbullying, toxic social comparisons, sleep deprivation, and isolation. Researchers have found that social media addiction is correlated with anxiety, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and other types of psychological distress. While correlation does not imply causation, social media has undoubtedly changed the way people relate to each other and the way they feel about themselves. These correlations have led to growing concerns about the possible negative associations between social media and mental health.
Taking Care of Your Mental Health
Mental health is an asset that we all need to prioritize. Question your social media usage and find your balance. Is social media productive, emotionally healthy, and therapeutic for you – or is it adding stress to your life? If you feel that social media is taking a toll on your mental health, recognize it and take action. Here are some possible ways to take care of your mental health:
Take a social media “detox” once in a while so you can be present and engage with those around you rather than engaging with only your computer or phone screen.
Use social media in moderation. Many phones have a “Screen Time” option so you can limit the amount of time you spend on social media each day.
Remind yourself that what you read and see online isn’t always true – it’s only a small glimpse into someone’s life and it doesn’t encompass that person’s entire life story.
Be mindful: rather than mindlessly scrolling through social Facebook or Instagram, be conscious of what you’re looking at and how you’re feeling.
Practice self-care and do what’s best for you.
It may not be easy to take a step back from social media, especially in our digitally connected world, but mental health is an integral component of living a healthy, balanced life. Take care of yourself and recognize value in who you are.
Ayana and Social Media
Ayana has various social media pages that are dedicated to empowering you. We strive to lift people up and our social media (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) reflects this. If you need extra support, Ayana can match you with one of our qualified licensed therapists - we are committed to providing you with culturally competent care that is a right, not a privilege.