Mental health: The dangers of the social media diagnosis
April 11, 2018
Even Facebook agrees that social media can be bad for your mental health. And research by the Department of Education has found that the mental
well-being of teenage girls in the UK is worsening, with the impact of social media cited as the cause.
Yet my research reveals that more people are turning to these platforms for help with their mental health issues. This has been exacerbated as the crisis in the NHS sees waiting times for appointments grow. While most of the people I spoke to believed social media helped them, there is a concern that it could be adding to ongoing mental health problems.
Mental health has recently become the focus of attention within UK policy, with the proposed rehash of the Mental Health Act, and the new Power Threat Meaning framework, which aims to reduce the “medicalisation” of mental health. Despite raised awareness of some the issues, more and more people are turning away from their GPs as they fail to get the support they need. This is usually due to lengthy waiting lists for counselling, or a tendency to overly rely on prescribing medication as a cure all. Written by Kim Heyes Research Associate, Manchester Metropolitan University
Sooooo, what do you think?
Many of these people turn to online support, which in recent years has been through the medium of anonymised peer-to-peer community forums. This has evolved and people with mental ill-health are now turning to social media to “out” their health issues. But social media’s relationship with mental health is controversial. If even Facebook is telling us that being on social media can be bad for our health, why are people using it to create support networks? Celebrity social media “outings” have also helped to raise awareness. Last year, Sinead O’Connor publicly posted a video of herself on social media where she was clearly in need of support. She said it was her hope “that this video is somehow helpful”, using the hashtag #OneOfMillions. Her post sparked discussions about the “right way” of asking for help, but the debate by no means came up with any answers.