There are many perceived ‘negative effects’ of social media upon the individual. Namely; a false sense of inter-personal connection, prevalence of cyber bullying, decreased productivity, diminishing privacy, increased sense of isolation and loneliness, heightened introversion, decline in physical activity and so the list goes on…
Despite ongoing contention and contrary to popular belief, it has been argued that there is almost no quality scientific evidence linking social media to mental illness and suicide. In an article published in the Sydney Morning Herald yesterday, Dr Bridianne O’Dea, a mental health researcher at the black dog institute, suggests that social media platforms and the interactions they enable, are in fact beneficial to those suffering from mental illnesses, such as depression and anxiety.
O’Dea argues that information, assistance, reassurance and connectivity are increasingly available upon the Internet, with the anonymity of the online world encouraging individuals to seek help, advice and treatment in a space free from social stigma. Social media platforms empower information sharing, communication and interactions between like-minded individuals, with this network of connectivity proving extremely significant in the support and rehabilitation of individuals suffering from mental illnesses.
It would be naïve to suggest that the Internet and social media platforms are without flaws, however this reality highlights some of the constructive benefits of online interactions, information dissemination and a supportive online community.
If you are suffering or know of someone struggling with mental illness you can contact any of the following organisations, or find them online.
Lifeline 131 114
Beyondblue 1300 224 636