Opinion

Social media offers superficial support for mental health

We live in a generation where “self-love” is thrown around almost carelessly.

You can’t open social media without being flooded with self-love tips to improve your mental health, whether it be meditating, spa days or simply taking a few seconds every day to appreciate the good things in your life.

As a society, we put on this show that we care.

We post pictures and paragraphs begging our friends to reach out to us if they need help, yet we do nothing when they actually need it. We pretend to be supporters, but we really only care if we can help while hiding behind our keyboards.

The second that things get dragged into real life, we’re done. Society loses interest. We only care for so long before we move on to the next tragedy.

We type a quick “you’re not alone” or “I’m here for you” and then forget about it right away.

We need to get out of that mentality. We need to start moving these conversations from online to the real world.

In 2017 alone, 47,173 Americans committed suicide.

I’m sure most of these people felt alone, like they had no safe person to turn to. I’m sure their social media was filled with signs that something was wrong, signs people ignored.

There’s still this stigma around mental health. People struggling are perceived as weak when they’re not. They’re so incredibly strong for waking up every day and choosing to fight.

The stigma we carry with us is so utterly ridiculous. Having poor mental health is nothing to be ashamed of, and we should stop making kids and adults feel like they’re weak for needing help.

It’s not an easy fix. We can’t erase years of judgment in a few days. It’s something we’re really going to have to work hard at.

Support online is a good place to start. It’s a way to share your story and find other people who have gone through similar things, but the only way to truly fix it is to move this conversation into real life.

Parents need to be teaching their kids that it’s OK to ask for help, that struggling doesn’t make you weak.

No one thinks anything of it when you break your arm; your mind is also a part of your body and shouldn’t be thought of any differently. Sometimes it gets a little hurt and you need help to fix it.

We also need to teach people that mental illness can be so many different things.

Depression is definitely the most talked about mental illness, but it’s not the only one. Sometimes it can be something as simple as OCD that can completely ruin someone’s life if they don’t get help.

I personally have struggled with anxiety for as long as I can remember, but I didn’t reach out for help until recently.

I have no excuse or reason other than I felt like maybe my struggles were too insignificant compared to other people’s struggles. I wasn’t struggling with depression or suicide; I was just getting nervous before tests or big events.

I never considered the possibility that maybe my anxiety was to the point where it was affecting my everyday life, but it definitely was.

I finally decided that enough was enough when I witnessed my friend’s ex go through a suicide scare. Something about it hit me and made me realize that I needed to reach out and take care of my mental health before it got out of hand, even if it was just anxiety.

We need to make sure that nobody ever feels like their mental health struggles are insignificant. I think social media plays a huge role in that.

We only ever post the bad things when it gets to the point where we can’t hide it anymore or it’s life altering. If you post anything your followers deem insignificant, the hate comments start to roll in, but we need to start posting about the small stuff anyway.

Posting our daily struggles with anxiety, OCD, depression or even things like ADHD could help show other people that they’re not alone and maybe even help them realize that something could be a symptom of their mental illness.

We need to start uplifting each other both on social media and in real life.

We need to stop making fun of our friends for the stuff they can’t do because of mental illness and start congratulating them for the small victories they make every day.

Mental illness is a daily battle that can’t easily be won.

We, as a society, need to stop this online charade of caring and instead show real concern that can translate over to the real world.

The world would be a much better place if we all showed a little bit more compassion for each other and took the time to educate ourselves to truly take care of our mental health.

Alyssa McMillan

Reporter | Psychology | anmcmill@svsu.edu
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Categories: Opinion

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