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The Positive Influence of Social Media on Mental Health

Social media provides a powerful tool for connecting individuals, allowing them to not only share content with one another online but also to create a sense of community. As such, social media provides an opportunity to develop supportive communities focussed around the promotion of mental health and wellbeing.

  • Cohan et al. (2017) comment on the usefulness of social media forums in providing individuals with a space in which they can share their mental health challenges and seek support from peers.
  • Park and Conway (2017) suggest that engaging in an online community resulted in an improvement in health outcomes related to depression.
  • Some studies show the benefits of social media in regards that it allows some people to share feelings, fears, concerns and anxieties, and this can give them some support Deters & Mehl, 2013; Lenhart et al., 2015.

The video below shows the positive influence social media can have on mental health.

This is an additional video, hosted on YouTube.

Social media can also be a useful tool in challenging unhealthy perceptions of the human body associated with the experience of eating disorders.

The ‘Fitspiration’ social media movement aims to encourage healthy weight loss through diet, exercise and education and sharing a more body-positive message than the ‘thinspiration’ ideal observed within the anorexia-nervosa community (Tiggemann and Zaccardo, 2016). However, researchers argue that fitspiration content still promotes weight loss and body image ideals that may be harmful to those consuming such content.

Use the space below to discuss your opinions on using social media to promote positive mental health.

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This article is from the free online course:

Understanding Mental Health: Continuum, Culture and Social Media

Anglia Ruskin University