Social media is a space that connects millions of people around the world. Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp or Messenger seem to be the most popular social media apps, as around 2.1 billion people log in every day. With the profusion of platforms, the question arises of their impact on the mental health of users. Research shows that these apps could be a cost-effective option for raising awareness about mental health.
How to improve mental health through social media
Although social media allows us to instantly connect with others, it can also cause feelings of inadequacy, guilt, loneliness, envy, etc. Social media-induced anxiety is quite common. Here are some simple ways to improve your mental health through social media.
1. Join support groups
Most apps allow communities or groups based on common interests. You can join such groups related to mental health awareness, either in general or for specific conditions. They are not a substitute for qualified professional help, but their discussion forums provide an opportunity to exchange information about mental health resources and to talk openly about one’s conditions.
Participating in these communities would give you strategies for yourself or someone in your care.
2. Prioritize self-care
Self-care is difficult with our busy lifestyles. Using a self-care app can make the process easier. Apps like Fabulous are intended for coaching and building lasting habits to enjoy optimal mental health. Campaigns such as #LoveYourBody and #HereForYou on Instagram have been instrumental in opening up candid conversations about mental health online in a wide range of communities. Choosing to follow these campaigns and support the groups that are organizing such movements will give you a better insight into the various mental health initiatives.
3. Limitation of Use
Set a timer on your phone to limit the time you’ll spend on apps, and log out when the timer goes off (it’s easy to ignore it and keep scrolling). You can do this by going to your phone’s settings and adding app limits. You can choose to add the limit and choose which apps you want to limit and how much time you want to spend on each. You can also change this for weekdays (e.g. you want to scroll more time during weekends etc.)
4. Selecting your content
Unfollow or mute messages and stories from people who are not good for your mental health. Leave behind those who discourage you.
Add creators who are good for your mental health to your favourites. Adding someone to your favorites puts you in control of the content you see, which brings some agency to your sanity. Content creators often become our role models, and we end up doing things they do or aspire to do. It’s important to remember that things on social media may not accurately represent reality, and by choosing our content, we can protect our sanity.
5. Choose positivity
You can use social media for good, by sharing positive and supportive content and messages with your friends, family and others. For example, you can reach out to let someone know you’re thinking of them or share positive comments on a photo or post they’ve shared. If you find yourself replying to a message or posting something negative, pause and ask yourself if you could phrase it another way or have an in-person conversation instead. If you see or receive messages or content that you consider intimidating or abusive, you should block and report them. Words matter, and it’s important to think carefully about what we share.
Social media isn’t inherently bad, we just need to learn some ways to use these tools in healthy ways. Today we can access information on virtually any topic with just a phone call. So, we shouldn’t limit social media to posting pictures of what we eat or where we vacation. We should harness the immense power of social media through careful use to free ourselves from loneliness, boredom and depression.