Social Media can Be Good or Bad For Our Mental Health, Depending on Who We Follow

I write often about the connection between social media use and mental health. If you’ve seen any of my previous posts, you know that I tend to be doubtful of there being any direct tie between simply using social media, and being depressed. Rather, I think it really depends on how we use social media.

Simply put, too many of us follow people we think we should be following because other people we know follow them, or because we know them in real life, and skim our way through a feed filled with the carefully curated highlights of other people’s lives that look so much better than our own. Or, we engage in a lot of arguing over politics, or reading every negative headline about how the world is terrible shared by our connections.

Given how much time we then spend on social media doing those things, it’s no wonder we feel like social media is hurting our mental health.

But I’m here to tell you, it’s not social media’s fault. You’re just using it wrong.

OK, Mike. How should we be using it?

As you might imagine, I have some thoughts about this. And they start with, instead of using social media to see what celebrities are doing, or reports of the worst of humanity, use it to find your community. And then, get involved in it. Find like-minded people, and groups, who can help you feel good about life, educate you about the things you care about in positive ways, encourage you to be involved, and are a net positive for your mental health. For those of us in the child abuse survivor, or mental health advocate, communities, I even have some recommendations. Note, these are just a handful of places I have gotten involved in to one degree or another, but they are hardly the only resources out there. On the other hand, if you really want to get started with those communities online instead of letting social media be a drain on your mental health, they are some good places to start.

I’ll break them into different social media channels to make it easier:

The point is, if you're feeling like your social media feeds are dragging you down, don't just continue to scroll through them. Do something about what you're seeing thereClick To Tweet

Facebook:

I won’t tell you who you should be friends with. That’s a personal choice, and one no one can really tell you how to handle. I will, however, point you to a post I wrote on my other blog about how to hide certain friends, or the things they share, when those things are detracting from your mental well-being.

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I will also tell you to think about following pages, (like the one for this site) and getting involved in groups. For example:

  • The Mental Health Advocates International group, run by Dr. David Susman.
  • The Mental Health Bloggers group if you blog about mental health issues, or just want to get more information from people who do.
  • The Moments of Clarity page, run by Tiffany Werhner, who also host a radio/online show every Thursday and Friday at Noon Eastern, that is streamed on Facebook Live as well. You can spend part of your day hearing about mental health topics, and joining many of us in the comments section on Facebook.
  • Every Day is a Mental Health Day – which is actually one page from the much larger community of pages, blogs, community forums, and even their own app, by The Mighty. Another place you may want to check out and spend some time connecting with like-minded people, especially if they are also on other social media platforms where you can follow them.
  • Here’s the full list of pages I follow from my page for more ideas. (Some of these may not be updating any longer)

There are also a great number of private groups, many of which are connected with a page that you may find as you start to follow some pages, or if you know a member they can invite you. I’ve considered starting one tied to my page, but I just haven’t had the time to write up the rules and make sure it’s moderated properly. Maybe someday.

Twitter:

Twitter can seem very overwhelming at first. Especially as you start following people and then Twitter starts showing you everything they’re liking and sharing. It’s hard to know what is going to be good for your mental health, or bad, so always, always, keep open the possibility of just disconnecting from it temporarily if the stream gets too much. Or, check out these Twitter chats where you can actually get involved in real-time conversations:

  • #SexAbuseChat – every Tuesday night at 9PM Eastern. Follow that link to see recent posts from the chats, updates on upcoming chats from the hosts, and definitely consider adding them to the list of people you follow. They’ll connect you to a very robust survivor community on Twitter.
  • Mental Health Chat
  • Survivor Chat
  • Last, and probably least, follow my account to see all of what I’m sharing in terms of survivor and mental health information, and the people I interact with.

Instagram:

Again, yes I have an account there as well. Also, check out these other accounts that can be quite encouraging:

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Podcasts:

If you’re a podcast listener, I’ve got a couple of recommendations for you to check out:

  • Moments of Clarity – as mentioned before, if you can’t catch it live on radio or Facebook, you can get it in podcast form.
  • The Savvy Psychologist – short podcast that addresses one topic per show with tidbits of helpful information.
  • The Psych Central Podcast – which, actually, also gives me a chance to link to the Psych Central website, another place where you can find blogs, forums, podcasts, and etc. on mental health, all overseen by Dr. John Grohol, who has been at this a long time. I still remember joining in on the live chats every Friday night over on the site with Dr. John, long before this site even existed.

So there you go, I hope this can maybe be a start to you finding your way to more uplifting, encouraging, social media feeds. This is really just the tip of the iceberg. There are many, many more helpful accounts out there, doing some pretty amazing things that I don’t have the time to get personally involved with but that I know a lot of people enjoy quite a bit. I suspect, as you start to follow some of these accounts, and more importantly, get involved with the communities, you’ll start to add to this small list, and find more and more accounts that bring good things to you.

Or you’ll just continue to see other people blog lists like this one too – .

The point is, if you’re feeling like your social media feeds are dragging you down, don’t just continue to scroll through them. Do something about what you’re seeing there, and add sources that are going to build you up instead of tearing you down. Check out what someone is sharing before you agree to follow, make sure it’s something that is going to lift you up, educate you, and leave you in a better place than you were before. Use social media as the communication and connection tool it can be. Make it part of your own mental health toolbox, and make it effective by having the right tools in it.

Here’s a start. Now it’s your turn. Share your favorite go-to social media feeds. Help those of us who are struggling to find positive messages online to connect with them.

Or, if nothing else, just find funny accounts to follow, or ones that share pretty pictures. Whatever, as long as it is a net positive for your mental health.

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