Whenever I talk with clients about social media and mental health, it’s typically about the negative consequences of social media. After all, it’s not very often clients discuss positive experiences related to social media in the therapy room.
At this point, most users are aware of the studies that have pointed to individuals developing depression or anxiety as a result of time spent on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. But is a closer examination worthwhile?
But is social media and mental health all bad?
There is actually flip side of the coin that suggests social media can actually be good for some people’s mental health. If you’re as skeptical as I am, read on to see how.
Social Media (Can) Keep Us Connected to Loved Ones
Most of the country was in some form of a lockdown for an extended period of time during Covid-19. The pandemic caused a lot of grief and stress for many people. But thanks to social media, most were able to stay connected with loved ones, share important information with community members, and stay apprised of the latest developments. In times of stress, social media can actually be something that brings people together so we don’t feel so alone.
Social Media (Can Be) for Mental Health Support
Global pandemic aside, there are times in one’s life when they may develop depression or feelings of anxiety. Sadly, many people who struggle with mental health issues feel as if they have no one in their immediate circle to turn to for support.
At these times, many people turn to the Internet to search for support and encouragement from the mental health community. In doing so, and if done correctly, they can receive the information as well as the comfort and guidance they need.
A Michigan State University study published in the Journal of Computer Mediated-Communication supports the theory that social media use might actually be beneficial to our mental health. In the study, researchers analyzed data from more than 13,000 relationships from adult participants. The data suggested that social media users were 63% less likely to experience mental health crises, including anxiety and depression.
Be a Mindful User
The study also found that those people who use social media, even on a daily basis, to connect and share information, had positive mental health outcomes. Those who had an emotionally unhealthy connection to social media – as an example, those people who check their pages excessively out of fear of missing out, tend to have negative mental health outcomes. Sound familiar? If so, you likely need to re-evaluate your social media use.
There is no question social media can have a significant negative impact on your mental health. But it seems that the real key to ensuring it doesn’t derail you emotionally, is to be a mindful social media user. Those that may have already developed an unhealthy social media habit that seems to have developed anxiety or depression may want to seek counseling to adjust their behavior.
James Killian, LPC is the Principal Therapist & Owner of Arcadian Counseling in New Haven, CT where they specialize in helping over-thinkers, high achievers, and perfectionists reduce stress, increase fulfillment and enhance performance so they can move From Surviving To Thriving.