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Positive impacts of social media on our mental health

Social media gets a really bad press when it comes to the impact that it has on our mental health. And although last week we did look at those negative impacts, it can also have positive impacts on how we are (if we use it in a routine, not a heavy or substantial way).

The main aim of social media is to help us to stay connected to people. That can be especially helpful if we live somewhere remote, have social anxiety or agoraphobia, have limited independence and if there's a global pandemic!

It helps us to stay connected to people we wouldn't ordinarily be able to stay connected to. And it allows us to stay connected to more people over a longer period of time. When you leave school or university or a job, there may be people you had connections with, that ordinarily in life you would just drift away from. Life takes you on separate paths and wouldn't know very much about how they are or what they're doing now. Social media allows us to stay connected in some way to those people; keep an interest in their life and see how and what they're doing.

It can be a great tool for self-expression. Sometimes people don't have the confidence, don't have, the means to express themselves and talk to people about certain things, face-to-face. And this can be a great alternative.

Social media can actually be a way of meeting new people. Places like Facebook have a lot of local community groups where people are looking to make new friends or meet up. They'll be able to arrange events, for instance, at a local pub quiz or bowling alley and social media is a way to get the word out.

It offers us convenience, and convenience sometimes can actually equal more support. If we've got a friend who we know is struggling, being able to send them a message asking how they are can be more convenient than trying to call them a time that works for you and works for them. Being able to send a message and know they will respond whenever they're able to, is a really good way around busy life.

And it can be a way to try to raise awareness, spread information and learn. It's a way to reach a number of people to try and raise awareness about a topic, teach them something, or a way that we can learn for ourselves.

Suzie Booth

Counsellor MBACP.

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