Mental Health in the Digital World

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Mental Health Awareness month happens in May, but it is a discussion that should exist year round. One of the most pressing issues of our time is the stigma that surrounds mental health, which prevents individuals from seeking help. In the month of May we commit to talking about mental health from all sorts of perspectives to spread awareness.

The Darkside of Mental Health and Social Media

One of most important arenas of life where mental health seems to take a back seat is social media and our online lives. Behaviors that would be unacceptable offline become more commonplace when taken out of the context of time, location, or identity.

I personally feel that I benefit from remote work that allows me flexibility to do my job, but I sometimes resent the hours demanded of me as a community manager. I know for certain that I have fallen into a few of the emotional traps outlined in the “Darkside of Community Management”. I will admit that #1 is the area that I am working on now; I understand just how important it is to unplug and take a walk during the day. I guess you could say that I am taking time to get my head out of the cloud.

I read a blog called the Greatist which always has some tips that you can implement in your life for better mental and physical health.

It is difficult to walk the line, but for someone also dealing with anxiety or depression this becomes more challenging. That is why all of us must become allies helping our friends, families, and co-workers navigate the challenges in their life. We need a support network that honors who we are and encourages a commitment to mutual good heath.

How Does Social Media Contribute to Mental Health?

The unhealthy side of digital life is being questioned. A study from 2012 showed a correlation between students who frequently check email and symptoms of depression.

But is there a healthy side to social media as well? Another study tells us that positive feelings in social media are contagious with positive messages spreading further than negative. James Fowler, the researcher behind the study, believes that we could start a well-being epidemic!

If an emotional change in one person spreads and causes a change in many, then we may be dramatically underestimating the effectiveness of efforts to improve mental and physical health. We should be doing everything we can to measure the effects of social networks and to learn how to magnify them so that we can create an epidemic of well-being. – Facebook Feelings Are Contagious, Study Shows, UC San Diego News Center

I would hesitate to commit to any side on the debate of the social media good or bad spectrum of opinion. Radio, movies, television, and video games have all come attached with people dismissing their ability for good. New technology is feared before research is able to give us answers.

Another article from Scientific America about technology scares.

There are pros and cons, most likely connected to how individuals use social media and not the technology itself.

Mental health resources for those seeking help

Mental health covers more than mental illness.There are times in our life when we experience stress or are facing a difficult time. It is normal to feel sad, depressed, angry, fearful, anxious, happy, or elated. This is how the body informs us of what is going on in our environment and how we should react. It is all good, but when those feelings become extreme and impair our ability to take care of ourselves then we must seek help.

If you need to talk to someone you can call 1-800-273-8255 anytime.

This is the number for the National Suicide Prevention Line. Any individual that needs help or resources and wants to remain anonymous can use this line.

Also consider donating time or money to charities like Active Minds and the Jed Foundation that work to educate youth about mental health and mental illness. NAMI is the leading organization advocating for individuals diagnosed with a mental illness and their families.

Susan Silver is a community focused strategist who uses social data insights as the foundation of her work with ARCOMPANY. Her philosophy “Humanity in Data” is informed by a background in cognitive-behavioral psychology. She is making positive change in people’s lives, and the world, with thoughtful communication on behalf of her clients.

0 thoughts on “Mental Health in the Digital World

  1. Susan_Silver says:

    PaulBiedermann ArCIntel Thank you for sharing Paul! How are you doing?

  2. PaulBiedermann says:

    Susan_Silver Sure thing, Susan. Doing well — happy Memorial Day Weekend to you! ArCIntel

  3. Susan_Silver says:

    PaulBiedermann ArCIntel Yes it is a holiday! Enjoy 😀

  4. JoeCardillo says:

    Susan – glad you took the time to address this, and that the ARC folks provided a forum.

    As someone who’s entire job revolves around the web (like yourself) I struggle with unplugging. I’ve turned off push notifications from all social networks, I’m not on Facebook, I leave my phone in the car or at home whenever I can…and it’s still a challenge. I saw an infographic the other day that said the average person looks at their phone 150 times a day. It’s hard to imagine how we wouldn’t make ourselves sick doing that… and someone with mental health concerns probably has an even tougher time balancing the pressure.

  5. hessiejones says:

    JoeCardillo @Susan_Silver I think sometimes we take it for granted how this digital medium ends up not only affecting our mental stability but our overall health. Joe, it’s more about uplugging — it’s also about the peer pressure to stay connected and “not” leaving the conversation or “being there” just in case someone says something about you. Sad thing is that digital can be just as stressful as real life. Feeling the need to voice an opinion or reply to someone right away is as much an expectation of oneself as it is an expectation we have for each other. Something clearly has to change:(

  6. susansilver says:

    hessiejones JoeCardillo Great points to you both. 

    Thank you Joe for coming by and joining the discussion. 

    Yes, I sometimes wonder if the leap from my dumb phone to the smart phone was a good one. I can do my job from the laptop without a problem. Now that I have a smart phone I feel more pressure to join and use certain apps. As well as update or post more frequently to social networks. 

    To your point Hessie, you are so right! The fear of missing out is a big motivator and it can get unhealthy if we let it rule over our life. 

    We should be teaching people how to set healthy limits and boundaries.

  7. JoeCardillo says:

    susansilver hessiejones JoeCardillo Oh yeah, absolutely agree. Need to pay attention to the soul. Being a good and happy human isn’t something that the interwebz will fix or destroy, but it sure accelerates the process. 
    Interestingly, opting out of Facebook has been good for my personal life. I miss out on some things but I do a much better job of balancing. But I totally have professional FOMO, especially now that my actual job revolves around hanging out with content, PR, marketing, and comms folks.

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