Social Media – The New Therapist?

According to Beyond Blue, one in seven young people will experience a mental illness, and specialists now believe that social media is a leading cause of this.

 

Social media has taken over all aspects of people’s lives in the past decade. It is where we communicate and connect with friends and family around the world. Facebook was created in 2004 so people could post statuses and photos about their lives for their family and friends to see. Instagram followed on in 2010 as another site to post photos to update people following you.

 

Nowadays, teens appear to be using social media as an outlet – a place to vent negative feelings – rather than going to see a professional for help.

 

Michelle* writes on Facebook, “depression is my huge weakness …” which indicates a mental issue; however, she chooses to share these feelings with people online rather than just sharing them in person with someone who can help her.

 

Studies indicate a sharp increase in the number of teens reporting mental health disorders since social media became popular, and this is mainly due to not spending time with people face-to-face. Across Facebook and Instagram, there are depression pages which specialise in sharing sad quotes and photos to connect with people who might be feeling down. If teens are constantly seeing sad quotes online, then they will only add to their negative mindset because they are not viewing positive things.

 

Harry* commented on the Facebook page ‘Depression Quotes’, “… I don’t want to be here anymore. I want to be gone for good …”.

 

Scrolling through these pages, you can find people commenting about feeling depressed, and others respond with their own feelings and experiences. This has the potential to create an online community where young people feel safe to share their dark feelings with others. However, the downside is that it appears teenagers feel more comfortable sharing their depressive feelings on social media rather than with another person.

 

Facebook user Luke* wrote in response to a photo, “it’s been like 3 months since I’ve felt like myself”, and Instagram user @anonymous* captions a photo, “they always say ‘time heals all wounds’ but I keep cutting mine back open”.

 

Comments such as these indicate a problem which needs addressing, and it is unlikely that help will be found on social media alone. It has become clear that people need to be educated about the dangers of social media and how it is a huge cause of mental illness. Only then will teens realise that receiving help from a professional is more likely to benefit them, rather than turning to social media to try and overcome these feelings by themselves.

 

*Names of people quoted have been changed to protect their privacy

 

Other Relevant Sources

  1. https://www.psycom.net/social-media-teen-mental-health
  2. https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/depressed-teens-turn-social-media-cope-survey-finds-n895951
  3. https://www.nbcnews.com/health/mental-health/social-media-linked-rise-mental-health-disorders-teens-survey-finds-n982526
  4. https://www.beyondblue.org.au/media/statistics

 

Lifeline  is a free and confidential support service which can be reached on 13 11 14.

Beyond Blue  can be reached on 1300 22 46 36.

 

Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.

 

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About Shannon Cole

My name is Shannon Cole and I am a journalist student at Deakin University. In my free time I enjoy reading books, writing new articles, watching movies, and hanging out with friends. I also work part-time as a swimming instructor at JUMP! Swim Schools. I have the opportunity of writing for The Footy Almanac as I was looking for new experiences and opportunities and was offered an internship through one of my journalism units at Deakin. I also have a personal blog where I post articles (www.shannonjournalism.com), so feel free to check that out. I hope you enjoy my articles and keep an eye out for any new ones I post!

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