• Maree Jones

Social media and mental health: what can be done to help? Two perspectives



Earlier this year, I set up a Google Alert to track conversations about social media and mental health. I wanted to see what researchers, journalists, and psychologists said about how prevalent mental health issues are (because of social media), as well as what could realistically be done to temper social media use.


During my reading, I've discovered two perspectives about social media and mental health:


1. Social media platforms/companies should do a better job of regulating social media, and

2. Individuals should do a better job of self-regulation when it comes to how much we use social media.


So the question, "what should be done about mental health and social media use?" quickly turns into a chicken-or-egg scenario with one side blaming the other for not doing their part.



February's Social Media Mental Health Headlines:


Last month, Snapchat unveiled a "Here for You" feature which would, "show safety resources from local experts when Snapchatters search for certain topics, including those related to anxiety, depression, stress, grief, suicidal thoughts, and bullying." Similar to what Pinterest did a while back, Snapchat has gone the route of providing mental health resources to its users.


In the same token, experts have taken to blogs and publications to express frustration that some of the major social network players (Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, primarily) seem to be doing nothing. They go as far as to assert that these companies should be held financially accountable if using the platforms contribute to the deterioration of users' mental health.


What does this mean for social media users like us?


It means we need to take responsibility and set our own limits regarding how much we use social media outlets, how often we mindlessly scroll, and the type of content with which we fill up our news feeds.


Until there's better research on how exactly social media affects its users' mental health, there will continue to be loud opinions, well-meaning tools, and mixed messages published about what social media is doing to our brains and emotions.