Mental Health Awareness Week- Social Media

Social media has taken the world by storm; in some positive ways but also some negative. Social media platforms are an amazing tool and it is still incredible what we can achieve with them. This can be anything from people starting businesses through Instagram, becoming an overnight singing sensation from YouTube, starting a charity to help others or even having your opinion heard in the Twitterverse. With all of this in mind, it is understandably hard not to compare yourself to those around you and those who you choose to surround yourself with on social media. There is no denying how fun it can be to follow your favourite celebrity or model or Instafamous friend online; but you can still end up asking yourself ‘why am I not as good as this person?’. Something, I think, we have all done at some point in our lives.

According to a survey from an article in The Independent, Brits check their phones 28 times a day. That’s at least once an hour and 10,000 times a year (something I am definitely guilty of!). This is where social media begins to put stress and pressure on people, especially those from a younger generation. I know from experience that there is pressure to try and fit in with the current trending crowds and the fashion and whatever else seems ‘cool’ at the time. However, this can put a very big strain on your mental health. Checking your phone so often becomes an obsession which can build more stress. Try leaving your phone alone for two hours, take a breather and clear your mind.

There are certain insecurities that we wish to share with other people and some that we do not; this is true of most human beings. Which brings me back to my point of social media encouraging the comparison of yourself to others. This is where a lot of stress can arise from, as comparing yourself against other people can cause you to overthink and get too ‘in your own head’ about things. There is no harm in experiencing wanderlust because your friend is on holiday or travelling around the word. The harm comes from when you begin to doubt yourself, your abilities and your decisions based on someone else’s holiday pictures; this might sound far-fetched but you’d be surprised about the amount of people who do feel this way. Just because someone else is doing a different thing to you, doesn’t mean that you’re doing the wrong thing.

From the topics I have touched on above, different severities of mental health issues can develop but none are less important than others. Social media stress and pressures can cause anxiety and depression, and possibly in other cases, OCD, eating disorders and self-harming. It is important to remember that you are your own person with your own unique attributes and your own vision of what you want to achieve. We are fortunate to be living in a time where more people are trying to break the stigma and ‘taboo’ of mental health. A lot of people are beginning to accept themselves for who they are and not worry about any judgement or comparison to anyone else, which is something we can aspire to.

Luckily the number of charities and organisations dedicated to helping those who suffer from mental health issues is growing but there is still more to be done. I am aware that it will take more than a short article to help people who do struggle with mental health issues but I am hoping to inspire the thought of helping others, helping yourself and the realisation that you are not alone in your struggle, no matter how big or small. And to inspire others to help the cause in fighting mental health illnesses and creating more opportunities for those who do struggle with their mental health to speak out. There are different ways in which you can begin to fight the battle against stress and mental health; talking to a friend, parent, teacher or colleague, using a helpline such as ChildLine or Samaritans and even encouraging and supporting things such as #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek or #SmallTalkSavesLives. All of these things help us in our journey to combat mental health issues.

Below is a link in which Social Media is being used as a tool to help combat mental health issues:

http://www.adweek.com/digital/instagram-launches-campaign-to-promote-mental-health-awareness/

Jess Pickford, Communications and Marketing Assistant