The Power of Social Media: Mental Health

“Concerns about the negative impacts of social media have dominated public debate. However, recent studies show there are clear health benefits to being online and connected.”

– Joanna Egan, Women’s Health

This public debate on whether social media is good or bad has been around since it became the backbone of our life. As a Gen Z myself, a huge part of my life revolves around social media. I believe that it can be toxic, however i’ve noticed the power of social media to spread positivity, awareness, and create conversations around mental health.

One thing to note, you definitely should not depend on social media to self-diagnose or treat your mental health. Social media can be used to bring those stigmas around mental health to light and offer some light motivation and advice on your mental health journey.

In this blog, I want to highlight the three mediums that showcase social media in a positive light when addressing mental health. These include content creators, Instagram accounts, brands, and companies using social media to initiate positive mental health discussions.

Content Creators/Influencers

One of the positives is to “discover (with care) sources of valuable information and learning”. The term “with care” is extremely important here as you don’t want to overwhelm yourself with the number of sources out there. One of these sources of learning i’ve come across is the content creators across different platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and even TikTok.

These videos may be cringe-worthy to some, but for others, it’s a way for them to express their emotions without having to express them themselves. They create content to address emotions, thoughts, and incidents some may face in their everyday lives. Some could be as long as 10–20 minute videos, but the popularity of TikTok allows content creators to produce 60-second videos that can target topics more quickly and promote higher engagement.

“Filming a 20-minute video on depression may work for some people, but if I can make a quick 60-second video that thousands of people see as they do their daily scroll on TikTok, it helps plant the seeds that mental health is important for all of us,” Justin Puder, a psychotherapist who amassed more than 130,000 followers and two million likes on TikTok within eight months of the pandemic told VICE.

One creator I’d like to mention is Jay Shetty. This Guardian article describes him as “a kind of influencer-cum-life-coach who promotes wisdom and self-help advice to 3.5m YouTube subscribers, 6m Instagram followers and a Facebook audience of more than 27m”.

The title of his videos and Instagram stories helps to easily identify what you’re feeling and matches you with the appropriate video to watch. Some of these video titles include — If You’re Anxious At Home, Watch This, “Feeling Lost? — Watch This To Find Yourself Again!“, and “This Is Why You’re ALWAYS TIRED All The Time!”. Videos like these could provide reasoning, suggestions and motivation to those looking for it.

So remember, a simple hashtag search on your preferred social media platforms can help you discover the content that caters to your needs and interests as there are a ton of sources and creators out there!

Instagram Accounts

Another positive outcome of social media for mental health, is that it can be “an outlet for your creativity and self-expression”. There are Instagram accounts that are already mentioned in the category above, i.e. content creators. However, there is a community driven with the goal to spread awareness about mental health through curated posts featuring inspirational quotes, graphics, and short messages that can brighten up someone’s feed.

Here are a few I found:

@makedaisychains

@minaa_b

@sonaksha

The expression of creativity through the graphic/art accounts not only broadens the mental health conversations, but also promotes small artists and their talent. It can also encourage others to express their thoughts in a similar artistic manner.

There are so many other accounts out there ranging from small to popular. So, if you’re looking for a way to combat any negativity on your feed, follow and interact with similar accounts that you find motivational and beneficial for your mental health. It can make a big difference to open the app to an inspirational quote or message that stimulates a positive energy.

Brands and Companies

In terms of brands and companies creating real conversations on mental health and giving back to this community, we’re not 100% where we could be. However, I’ve seen a start with some of my favourite companies. This Vogue Business article sets the tone for the future of brands —

“As Gen Z’s spending power increases, the next generation of consumers are making decisions based on their values, and have more than enough options to decide to spend their money with retailers they most connect with.”

Mental health is extremely prioritized by this “next generation of consumers”, and so if brands interact with them in an engaging and genuine manner, they can help destigmatize mental health and promote positive conversations around it.

Let’s take a look at Rare Beauty as an example. The founder of Rare Beauty, Selena Gomez, has taken a proactive approach with her brand to remove the stigma around mental health. Not only does “1% of all sales go to support mental health”, but Rare Beauty is also actively vocal about issues surrounding it, from educating followers to highlighting professionals in the space. See some examples below.

When mental health is discussed at these levels of corporations and visibility, it sheds more light and importance on it. These brands acknowledge the power of social media to promote their brand and their messaging with mental health and strive to make the most of it.

Overall, when it comes to social media, it all depends on how you use it and engage with it in your daily lives. There are cases of overusing and misusing social media which may trigger symptoms of anxiety or depression. However, if you practice self-control and filter the content you interact with, you can adopt a healthier interaction with social media for your mental health and harness its power.

Written by Tanvi Srivatsa

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Students for Mental Health, Awareness, Support, and Health | Ryerson University

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RYERSON SMASH

RYERSON SMASH

Students for Mental Health, Awareness, Support, and Health | Ryerson University

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