The Benefits and the Dangers of Mental Health Discussions on Social Media

scrolling through social media while in the cafe

Stress and mental health issues are on the rise, and people are finding ways to manage them effectively. Employees who are suffering from stress and burnout take part in stress management programs in the hopes of learning to handle their stress symptoms. Meanwhile, those who have severe symptoms of fatigue and muscle pain turn to chiropractic care to get effective treatment for body pains, migraines, and headaches.

Besides meditative techniques and health intervention, the online community has discovered a rising trend on social media, where users are promoting positive discussions about mental health. People are sharing wellness advice they learned from their therapists, psychologists, and other mental health experts. The advice range from paraphrased statements to direct quotes that come off as relatable to other users. Their goals vary from raising awareness, helping readers who lack access to healthcare, or bringing a mental health lift. In other words, these posts seek to provide mental health education and give people a little boost.

What is social media therapy?

This trend is among the vast amount of mental health content in the social media landscape. From Facebook, TikTok, and Instagram, regular people have turned into mental health influencers by simply posting quotes from their therapists, uplifting thoughts, videos offering advice, and random infographics taken from the Internet. These profiles range from professional to inspirational in tone, which all seek to attain an essential feat: remove the stigma and make people feel understood.

The problem with this trend is these so-called mental health influencers are offering unsolicited advice even if they have no mental health-related degree and professional training. This also includes people who are not in the position to provide medical advice to their audience.

This brings into question what the social media community will benefit from mental health influencers and also its dangers. Experts say the answer lies in the perfect storm brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the first few months of 2020, people experienced uncertainty and isolation on an unprecedented scale. It was a tough time as people suffered from loneliness, anxiety, and depression. In the process, the global crisis affected everyone’s ability to socialize in person, causing people to rely on social media as their means of communication.

Halfway to 2020, health organizations discovered a sudden spike of mental health disorders, such as anxiety and depression. The pandemic has taken away all the good in everyone’s lives, causing a negative toll on people’s mental health. To fill the painful void, people participate in mental health discussions on social media.

Benefits of mental health discussions on social media

One of the most admiring outcomes of discussing mental health on social media platforms is the normalization of mental health disorders. As more people suffer from mental health issues, online discussions play an important role in breaking down the long-standing stigma surrounding mental health.

The younger generation, particularly millennials and Gen Zs, are turning discussions about anxiety, depression, and therapy into everyday conversations. As a result, sharing experiences about mental health has become commonplace, which helps in reducing feelings of loneliness and isolation. In fact, users view influencers who actively seek care as someone who is “cool” and “fearless”.

Mental health discussions have normalized and humanized mental health just like how we treat other aspects of healthcare. People are more courageous to seek help and address their condition instead of dealing with it alone.

The dangers of social media therapy

Every person is unique. We all have our own cultural experiences, personal history, lifestyles, and emotional patterns. Mental health advice on social media appears as a blanket approach to conditions that seem to happen to everyone. The truth is that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to mental health disorders.

When it comes to social media, influencers provide mental health statements to entertain, inform, engage, and encourage people to remain in their community. It becomes public information that anyone can consume regardless of their mental health issue.

Healthcare professionals warn people may feel isolated or helpless when consuming general information that does not apply to their situation, even if it seems to cover all mental health concerns. If the advice doesn’t work for them, this can lead to distraught reactions that may affect their mental health.

If you’re suffering from any mental health symptoms, it’s best to discuss them with a loved one or consult a licensed mental health professional. While the Internet provides unlimited resources about mental health, it’s important to rely only on trusted authorities, such as healthcare organizations, wellness centers, and research entities.

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