Dear Mental Health Community: Let’s Talk About Social Media
Dear Mental Health Community,
I wanted to pen this piece to encourage all of us to do some self-reflection on our social media use. Many of you do incredible work. Inspiring, world-shaping, life-saving work. Being able to witness it is something I am extremely grateful for.
Most – if not all of us – depend on social media as a vehicle for this work. We use Instagram to share posts and reels and connect. It’s a vital tool for us to be able to do the work we’re passionate about.
Which got me wondering. Because we all use it so often, on a daily, if not hourly basis – are we stopping to consider the effect social media is having on our own mental health?
It’s a tragic irony. Many of the people who use social media to help improve others’ mental health are negatively effected mentally by the use of social media. It’s a perfectly terrible loop.
See, the problem with social media use in this regard is that individuals begin to seek their identity through their Instagram profiles. They begin to think that their inherent value lies solely within the confines of their social media presence. But this isn’t true.
I see people (and something I do the same, too) worrying about follower counts, and engagement, and getting verified etc.– all of which contributes negatively to mental health when these unimportant milestones aren’t hit. Many mental health activists come onto their stories to explain inactivity as if they are enslaved to being active constantly twenty-four seven. I see people upset when they don’t have certain numbers or feel that nobody is listening.
It is becoming clearer as the days go on that many of us in the mental health community have quite an unhealthy relationship with social media.
Often, we turn to social media to get a sense of meaning in our lives. This is a dangerous game to play, because it means you’re depending on something external for your wellbeing.
Which begs the question: Who are you without your social media profiles?
This is a question we all need to address. If the idea of having no social media scares you, then there is some work to be done.
The mental health people I follow do so much good work for the mental health of others. I think it’s important not to forget about your own mental health.
Reflect on your relationship with the social medias you use. And be honest: Do you find yourself pathologically attached? Do you feel like you have to explain every move you make? Or post constantly for fear of losing your audience?
This isn’t healthy. Not for your mental health, which is the mental health you should be prioritising above all else.
Something to consider.