How to Fix Mental Health Issues Caused by social media

Sleeping with a smartphone - Photo by: m01229 - Source: Flickr Creative Commons

These days, most of us can’t even begin the day without first reaching for our phone. And as soon as you do, an endless stream of popups and notifications immediately rush your way. For many, occupying themselves with social media becomes a slippery slope – it begins as something harmless and fun but can quickly turn into an addiction with serious implications, very much the same as substance abuse does.

According to a survey, people in the age group of 18-29, are most attracted to social media sites, while younger population is even more susceptible to developing dependency which leads to mental health problems. Most people don’t settle for just one platform and usually mix their time between a few, which makes it even easier to become totally engrossed in the virtual world and slowly detach from the real one.

Excessive use of the internet, and social media in particular, is a serious problem many of us deal with nowadays. It can quickly get out of hand, and lead to an assortment of mental difficulties – from sleep deprivation, to stress and anxiety, negative body and self-image, and even clinical depression and suicide in extreme cases.

The Pros of Using Social Media (Safely!)

While it might seem somewhat redundant to remind of the huge benefits social media platforms can have in our lives, it’s still important to do just that in such an article as this. If used responsibly, these sites can generate a lot of value and bring you close to the ones you love or share mutual interests with.

If you feel like you are overusing a certain platform, the solution is not to think of as the devil or berate yourself for lacking self-control or discipline. All you have to do, is remind yourself of the real reason why you started using the platform in the first place, ask yourself if that reason still holds true, and see how you can maximize the value you get from using the site while limiting harmful exposure to the minimum.

The Cons of Using Social Media Irresponsibly 

With recent news about Facebook going viral, it’s no longer a secret what social media sites aim to do. You have to constantly remind yourself that these platforms were not created with the user’s wellbeing in mind. Facebook and other social media sites are not your friends and don’t care about anything besides their bottom line.

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Sure, using these sites can be a fun and enriching experience if done correctly. But to do so, one must be aware of the risks at all times and practice self-awareness and control. One of the most common issue people (especially younger ones) have to deal with is the constant pressure to present a perfect image of oneself and the feeling of always being measured and judged. Instagram in particular, have been found to cause negative body image issues and trigger the imposter syndrome, which in turn can lead to depression and a sense of lost meaning in life.

Another extremely common issue with using social media too much is that you risk becoming increasingly detached from the real world. Gradually, the virtual sphere becomes the focal point of your life, with more and more of your time and energy spent there. Soon, you replace your real friends with online ones, and your whole perception might get warped. Many users of social media report feeling detached from their real lives, and in severe cases even detached from their own self – instead identifying with the online persona they have adopted.

These all lead to the bottom line – social media can be extremely addictive. These platforms are designed to keep users engaged and spend as much time on them as possible. This can quickly spiral out of hand and hurt your daily routine, most notably by inducing sleeping disorders as this 2018 UK study clearly demonstrates.

Fixing Mental Issues Caused by Social Media Use

Recent studies show the dangers of unchecked social media use. Behaviors such as sexual experimentation, bullying, and clique-forming are migrated into the online sphere and in turn lead to sexting, cyber-bullying, sleep deprivation and mood disorders, as well as breach of privacy. 

If your child is suffering from such issues, one of the best solutions is using an online therapy site. Many of these sites mimic the interface and usability of popular social media platforms, so avid social media users would feel right at home. Online treatments have proven to be just as effective as live ones, and they might actually be a better solution for those who engage in the virtual world so frequently anyway. They can provide a substitute that the addict will feel more comfortable with, and keep them safe as they begin their journey towards healing.

Below you can find a few recommendations for such platforms we feel are most suited for achieving such goal. That said, there are plenty of other online therapy sites that operate in a very similar fashion – so do your own research before using any of these.

Talkspace

With nearly 5 million active subscribers, Talkspace is the largest online therapy app in the world. What makes it great for dealing with social media abuse is the fact their basic package is entirely based around texting.

Talkspace is the only platorm where you can chat with your counselor 5 days a week, at any time of the day and have guaranteed response times. In other words, your therapist is obliged to reply to your messages within a reasonable timeframe and interaction is not limited to weekly sessions.

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These type of approach to treatment can feel very familiar and safe for those who are already used to interacting with other humans in such a way. It can feel just like texting your friend on WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger, only here you are exchanging messages with a licensed therapist who can help lead you in a healthier direction.

7cups

7 Cups is also one of the largest online therapy sites out there. It is also one of the oldest and best reviewed ones around. Unlike other sites, it employs a very unique approach to counseling in a few distinct ways.

First of all, their service is completely free. You can interact with trained volunteers and get emotional support 24×7. If you prefer a licensed therapist instead, you’ll have to pay a small monthly fee instead.

Secondly, the entire site is designed to look and feel like a social media platform. Users get badges and awards, can interact with one another, and their forums and Q&A sections are extremely active as well.

Lastly, 7Cups lets you chat directly with people who are dealing with the same issues you are. This can be a great way to replace toxic online relationships with healthier ones that help create a sense of comradery and mutual purpose.