Last week was mental health week. Analyst Anna reflects on mental health online:

Social media’s impact on mental health is ever evolving as the stigma surrounding the topic crumbles. This creates a cycle where more people feel comfortable talking about mental health online which in turn breaks the stigma even further. Today, people are not only using anonymous forums and message boards to discuss their experiences with mental illnesses, but also openly talking about them on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – continuing to raise further awareness.  

Here are a few ways in which social media is helping benefit mental health today. 

  • Relieve feelings of loneliness:
    Whether it’s in an anonymous forum or on Facebook, sharing experiences online gives the opportunity for people to read it and realise that they are not alone and that there are other people in similar situations. This can also help people find ways of getting appropriate help and advice. 
  • Increased support network:
    The more people who are aware of the struggles an individual is going through, the larger the network of people the individual feels they can confide in. This larger network of people can provide support, encouragement or just a listening ear when needed. 
  • Influence a healthy lifestyle:
    Sharing personal goals and achievements online, big or small, can help those struggling stay focused and positive whilst promoting the same behaviour in others. 
  • Raising awareness and funding for mental health charities:
    Taking part in events from bake sales to extreme sports challenges are all great ways to raise money for charity. Sharing these efforts and fundraising goals online can increase the money raised and expand the reach of people who then learn more about charities such as the Mental Health Foundation, Mind, Beat, and Combat Stress, as well as discovering ways in which they too can get involved.  

 

-Anna Fletcher