OPINION: Has social media helped us open up about mental health?
Mental health plays an important role in our overall health and well-being. Yet there is still a stigma behind it. Conversations about mental health are something many people have tried to avoid.
However, in recent years it has become increasingly common for individuals to open up about mental health. Through social media, countless posts have been shared with resources, personal stories and motivational messages to show their support. The content that has been shared helps normalize discussion about mental health and mental illness and break down the stigma behind them.
Social media isn’t so bad. Like everything in life, there are pros and cons. However, social media has given individuals a platform to open up and share their stories and experiences and this has become increasingly mainstream. With approximately 4.62 billion social media users, the messages we share have the potential to reach more people than we could ever imagine.
The #mentalhealth hashtag on Instagram has over 36,000,000 posts. Below the hashtag are posts of important reminders, resources, inspiration, and personal experiences from others. On social media, many people are reposting and sharing the inspirational posts and resources on their stories and feeds for people in their own lives to see.
On TikTok, the hashtag #mentalhealth has 35.3 billion views and #mentalhealthmatters has 17.5 billion views. Many of the videos under these hashtags are short and uplifting TikToks, personal stories, and resources available to help you.
We never know who is in trouble and who the messages might help. The National Alliance for Mental Health reports that 21% of adults in the United States are affected by mental illness. The simple act of reposting a list of mental health resources or sharing that you are someone who cares can have a positive impact on the people around us. It is important to show support and understanding to those who may be struggling.
Many social media users have flooded the platforms with helpful and informative posts. In doing so, they open up conversations and help make social media a more positive and safe space. These safe spaces on social media can help users find resources and feel less alone about what they are going through.
A study by the Journal of Education and Health Promotion looked at campaigns and posts on various social media platforms to determine if social media is an effective tool for raising mental health awareness.
Their conclusion said: “Using social media platforms to run mental health campaigns is an effective initiative because many people can be reached in a short time. With the help of technology, participants could easily become part of the campaign. There is a growing trend of raising mental health awareness by effectively using digital media as a platform for disseminating information.
The more open we are, the more we talk about what we are doing mentally, the less others will feel alone. Social media is powerful: let’s use it in ways that help and support each other.
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Julianna is a graduate in journalism and sociology. She enjoys writing and reporting on topics related to mental and physical health and well-being.