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How social media can impact young adults mental health: Mental Health Awareness week.

The dawn of the cyberage is no secret to anyone, particularly amongst generations such as millennials and Gen Z who use various social media platforms daily. In 2020 3.8 million people use social media which is more than half the world’s population.

Recent studies have found that subsequently, the distinction between social media usage and the rate of depression and anxiety could well perhaps correlate, as Instagram and Facebook as well as other platforms showed that the 66% of teenagers and young adults have a higher rate of depression, than 13% of teenagers and young adults who spent the least time online. As social media is now the main currency of social interaction, it is our duty as part of mental health awareness week, to raise awareness both offline and online of how this can be a major factor of suicide and depression.

Staying connected through social media is now second nature to many young adults and teenagers. Although social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook have many benefits such as providing easier and faster communication with others, especially through tough times such as 2020, social media has undoubtedly cast a storm of insecurity and mental well being problems for many of its daily users.

One major negative impact social media has caused, is feeling inadequate and less than others that you have on social media. 

Constantly checking up on people’s stories is an easy thing to become addicted to doing, as platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, around 500 million people regularly update their Instagram stories daily. Because of this it is now easier than ever to fall into the turmoil of insecurity and feeling dissatisfied with how you look or how your life appears to be, just by comparing yourself to everyone else’s highlights and photoshopped photos.

Fear of missing out, or known by the younger generation as ‘Fomo’ is a significant factor of the increase in rate of anxiety and depression amongst many social media users. If you find yourself regularly picking up your phone to check what everyone else is doing, then you may be suffering from ‘fear of missing out syndrome’. This addiction to picking up your phone can be detrimental to your mental health as this can trigger anxiety and stress levels, as you may think that everyone else has a better life than you.

Prioritising your phone over spending time with friends and family in the real world will most definitely trigger anxiety and depression. As humans, we rely on social interactions, so depriving yourself of this and isolating yourself to constantly check for updates on your phone will spark an increase in depression.

Self reflection is crucial in order to keep your mind clear and stress free. As you would regularly check your body for any physician deformities, treating your mind the same way is very important.

A sign that social media may be impacting your mental health is that you might notice you are spending more time scrolling through social media than living life in the real world and spending time with friends and family.

You may find that you constantly compare your appearance or life to others on Instagram and that you only feel validated when you receive a certain amount of likes and followers.

If you start to suffer with sleeping problems this could be an indication that social media is impacting your mental health, as you perhaps are checking your phone late at night or early in the morning.

If you start to notice that you are doing or relating to any of these signs, it is recommended to take a break from social media, contact a mental health service near to you or use online resources specifically for mental health.

Despite Instagram being the main target for the spike in mental health illnesses, many Instagram influencers including Instagram itself are putting measures and campaigns in place to try turn social media issues into a positive output for mental health awareness.

Instagram has been creating awareness by using the #Hereforyou initiative, which helps people connect through their worries and concerns, while providing mental health resources that Instgaram itself have launched.

Instagram has also created a tool that enables any user to anonymously report an account who you may think needs mental help. When that user next logs on to their account, they will immediately be connected to an organisation within their area.

If you are struggling with any of these issues, feel depressed, anxious or suicidal here is a list of hotlines and websites that are free to contact and will save you and many other lives.

We would love to hear your thoughts on social media and its impact on mental health, and what ways you think are best to overcome issues such as insecurity and fear of missing out.

By Ella Berry, Shoo Academy