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Mindful Media is all about reintegrating mental health into our modern lifestyle, and we’ve got some tips to help discover how raising mental health awareness will immensely help us all. Social media is synonymous with overreaching advertising. From a business perspective, it’s an extremely efficient marketing tool. But from the mental health standpoint, social media has morphed into a behemoth of toxic addiction that causes depression and anxiety. So where is the middle ground in all of this?

In 2022, there were over 4.59 billion (that’s billion with a B) social media users worldwide, yet 33% of adults reported experiencing loneliness. Studies expect there to be 4.89 billion (yes, billion with a B) social media users worldwide in 2023, which is about a 6.5% increase from last year. Social media is not a human connection; it’s a tool to get eyeballs. And the goal of big companies pulling the strings is for those nearly five billion sets of eyeballs to stay glued to screens and focused on spending resources (money, time, energy) on specifically targeted merchandise, goods, and services. 

Spending on social media advertising surpassed $226 billion (again, that’s billion with a B) in 2022. In a recent survey, 59% of Americans reported being influenced by social media to make a purchase, and a daunting 45% reported having gone into debt to purchase something they saw on social media. It appears the schemes are working, but to the detriment of people.

Even some of the mental health ecosystem has succumbed to the prospect of financial gain in social media apps. Recent headlines have exposed therapy apps like Cerebral, Headway, BetterHelp, and Talkspace for various breaches in legal regulations and compliance standards. The use of data from some of these tech startups has been collected and sold to social media platforms and marketing conglomerates, leading to targeted ads directed towards the app users. 

We call on mental health ecosystem leaders to step up and ensure privacy and safety are paramount when using apps. And they shouldn’t stop there; we must be more mindful of these apps’ effects. Otherwise, the outcome is dire: social media will continue to dominate our minds and resources, spreading misinformation and disinformation, and targeting people to go into debt.

In our capitalist society, money is god. Seeing lasting change that will help people in this scenario of safety guidelines will inadvertently cause somebody to lose money, so it’s not gonna be an easy process. It will take time for more regulations and safety measures to be established. In the meantime, simply committing to practicing mindful habits on social media is the best thing we can all do. A huge part of that is amplifying mental health resources and raising awareness for the mental health ecosystem. 

Whether it’s Mental Health Awareness Month or not, using social media as a tool to normalize conversations around mental health will exponentially help people find the help they need (and maybe never realized existed). Proactive social media campaigns have proven to boost awareness of mental health. Helping people feel seen, heard, valued, believed, understood, and empowered can literally save lives. There are two big caveats that must be addressed though.

We’ve already mentioned it, but misinformation and disinformation (sometimes even shared without intending to cause harm) run rampant on social media. The right to freedom of speech is often touted around as a license to say and share anything, even if it is blatantly false. To combat the effects of such misleading and potentially harmful information, it is so important to follow and engage with trustworthy, vetted sources and content creators. 

While it may be easy to distinguish legitimate accounts that are verified, remember that people are still gonna people. We’re all only human after all. Take everything you see or hear on social media (and from all sources of media) with a grain of salt. Just because someone has a blue checkmark next to their name on social media does not mean that what they say, share, or post is 100% truthful information all the time. This leads us to the second point.  

Within the mental health space online, there are countless content creators that are licensed professionals (and even more who are not licensed but are still sharing specific health information as if they were). While these sources can generally be trusted, they cannot diagnose you or provide treatment via a social media post. Remember, context is everything in mental health! 

What we mean by this is that mental health requires relevant context in order for care, diagnoses, treatment plans, and safety to be present. TikTok is not your therapist. You may be able to learn new mental health information, but self-diagnosing or drastically changing your habits and health choices can be very detrimental without a licensed professional offering care to you. 

Before making any major alterations to your lifestyle (including substances, medications, treatment plans and modalities, etc.), always consult your medical care team first. Your unique circumstances and health history are not considered in a social media post because the content creator is not one of your trusted clinicians offering healthcare directly to you. They may be a therapist, but they are not your therapist. Regardless, social media can be both good and bad, and it really depends on how it is used.

The biggest tip to combat the negative effects of social media is by limiting its use. The average person spent 147 minutes on social media per day in 2022, which is the highest it’s ever been. But breaks from social media have been proven to improve well-being and decrease depression and anxiety. Incorporating consistent time away from screens boosts our mental health. 

No matter how you use social media, remember what is so enticing about the concept in the first place: connection. The digital, scripted, polished versions of interactions and relationships found on apps cannot provide what real, face-to-face communication can offer. It can serve a purpose and be part of the bigger picture, but as you integrate mental health more into your life, mindful media is a make-or-break piece of the puzzle. 

We hate social media. So follow us. 😎 We are invested in integrating mental health into all aspects of life, including on social media. We call it Mindful Media, and there must be more of it thrown into the mix of all the rest. The world will continue to utilize social media, so the time to push for healthier habits and uplifting edutainment is now. #MindfulMedia

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