Social Media and Mental Health Stigma -- Is It All Bad?
Does social media help diminish mental health stigma or perpetuate it? I think many people would agree that social media can be a blessing and a curse. Amidst the extreme scrutiny and unhealthy comparisons, there are opportunities to spread awareness and create a voice that may have otherwise remained silent.
Social Media Can Reduce Mental Health Stigma
With all the downsides social media can present, one thing it does well is spread awareness. Instead of telling a story to a friend who then tells another friend, social media allows people to tell a story to millions, even billions, of people at one time. It's crazy, right? Although possibly unsettling at times, the ability to unify people virtually has had a positive impact in recent years.
I want to shed light on the summer of 2020. Without social media, we would not likely have seen the outcry we did surrounding social injustice. This is not because people were not committed to the cause, but because social media provided a space to amplify a message, to foster a community.
According to an article published by Maryville University on activism in the digital age:1
"Social media can create a platform for sharing stories, narratives, and photos, providing facts and data in a consumable way, which engages an audience by helping them understand. The work to create awareness helps to build a community around an issue."
The same argument can be made for spreading mental health awareness. Scrolling through my social media feeds, I see a surprising number of people posting about mental health and even more sharing their own experiences. Seeing this inspires me to continue putting myself out there in hopes that I, too, can make someone feel less alone after sharing my story.
What's Next for Social Media and Mental Health?
As a society, we have become more open to the once extremely taboo topic of mental health. Though hopeful, there still remains the unequivocal presence of scrutiny and stigma. In a survey conducted by the American Psychological Association, 86 percent of American adults surveyed stated that they believe the term "mental health" carries a stigma.2
All this to say, there is still work to be done to mitigate the stigma surrounding mental health in our society. So, in an age where social media is as ubiquitous as bread, why not use its power to benefit our cause?
- Maryville University, "A Guide to Activism in the Digital Age." Accessed February 3, 2022.
- American Psychological Association, "Survey: Americans Becoming More Open About Mental Health." May 2019.
Jack, J. (2022, February 17). Social Media and Mental Health Stigma -- Is It All Bad?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2022, December 9 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/survivingmentalhealthstigma/2022/2/social-media-and-mental-health-stigma-is-it-all-bad
Author: Juliet Jack
Yes, social media has helped my mental health by reminding me I’m not alone and helping me connect with others facing similar challenges. Even on LinkedIn, people are now sharing their mental health struggles!
Whenever I share the articles I’ve written about living with depression and anxiety on social media, I get comments expressing appreciation and new followers. I have yet to get any judgmental comments.
I titled one of my articles “It’s Now Okay to Admit You’re Not Okay,” and thankfully that is true even on social media.
Hi Wendi, thank you so much for your comment! I am thrilled you are having such a positive experience with sharing your story on social media, it is truly an incredible thing! I too feel less alone when I receive positive feedback on my articles, it makes putting myself out there a little less scary and all the more rewarding. Take care!
I think you make some excellent points here, especially your final closing point. Social media is very much a part of our culture these days, so why not use it as a platform to have important and potentially powerful, changing conversations around things like mental health. Great piece!
Hi Lizanne, thank you so much for your comment! I totally agree - social media definitely holds a lot of power when discussing impactful topics such as mental health, great point. Your support means so much to me, thank you for being a part of our little community.